Noel Brinkerhoff, American Canyon Eagle, Mar 3, 2017
American Canyon may have found an answer for boosting its long-term water supply needs, even if it is more than a decade away from being realized. It may also have discovered some nearby help for expanding its recycled water program.
The City Council last week authorized a plan to buy into the development of a new reservoir in California that would yield the city 2,000 acre feet of water a year. That amount is equivalent to about two-thirds of what the city now needs each year for its water needs, making it a significant boost to its future supplies.
Council members also agreed American Canyon should join the North Bay Water Reuse Authority in order to gain federal help for expanding its recycled water infrastructure.
Both plans were presented by Public Works Director Jason Holley as ways for American Canyon to boost its water supplies and have more control over its water future. In recent years, the city’s dependence on the State Water Project for most of its water revealed how vulnerable it could be during times of drought and water allocation cutbacks.
“I’m very encouraged by the possibilities here,” said Mayor Leon Garcia about the decision to invest in the Sites Reservoir project, located about 70 miles north of Sacramento.
Sites Reservoir has been under discussion by water experts since the 1970s. It calls for creating a large man-made lake near the town of Maxwell that could hold 1.8 million acre feet of water. An acre foot equals nearly 326,000 gallons of water.
About the size of Lake Berryessa, Sites Reservoir would require the building of a dam, pipelines and canals to ferry water to and from the lake. Unlike other large reservoirs in California, such as Lake Oroville, Sites would be an off-stream water source, meaning it would not be created by daming a river.
Some of the state’s largest water players, from the California Department of Water Resources to the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles, are behind the development of Sites Reservoir. American Canyon would be a small investor in the effort that is expected to cost $4.4 billion.
To join the joint powers authority developing Sites Reservoir, American Canyon will spend $120,000 initially. Public Works Director Jason Holley estimated that the overall cost to the city would be $1.2 million to pay its share of the environmental, design and construction expenses for the project.
Holley said construction would not likely start until 2022, and be completed by 2029.
Councilmembers said they were satisfied with the price tag for Sites Reservoir, given that would deliver 2,000 acre feet more water than American Canyon has now.
“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for us to capture a water source that is promising,” said Councilmember David Oro.
The per-acre-foot cost of Sites water is about $65, making it relatively affordable in the world of water expenditures, Holley said.
Oro said at that rate, why not invest in a bigger share of the project and get the city 4,000 acre feet of water, and “truly secure our water future.” He added that if it turned out American Canyon didn’t need that much water down the road, it could always sell some of it to another municipality or water district.