Governor Gavin Newsom took action this week to accelerate the Sites Reservoir project, utilizing new tools from the infrastructure streamlining package (SB 149) to build more faster. This project, if ultimately approved, would capture water during wet seasons and store it for use during drier seasons – holding up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water, enough for 3 million households’ yearly usage.
The project has received a total of $46.75 million in early funding from the state. In all, Sites is eligible for $875.4 million of Proposition 1 funding. Total project cost is estimated at $4 billion.
“We’re cutting red tape to build more faster,” Gov. Newsom wrote in a statement. “These are projects that will address our state’s biggest challenges faster, and the Sites Reservoir is fully representative of that goal – making sure Californians have access to clean drinking water and making sure we’re more resilient against future droughts.”
SB 149 allows the Governor to certify qualifying infrastructure projects for judicial streamlining under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Courts must decide CEQA challenges to certified projects within 270 days to the extent feasible – saving months or even years of litigation delays after a project has already passed environmental review, while still allowing legal challenges to be heard.
If the project moves forward, construction could begin in 2026.