ARKANSAS, Oct 24 (Future Headlines)- The Biden-Harris Administration has joined forces with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority to give the green light to the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This collaborative endeavor is poised to expand the San Luis Reservoir, the largest offstream reservoir in the United States, creating an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage capacity. The project carries immense significance, as it will provide additional water resources for over two million people, support more than one million acres of farmland, and preserve 135,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands and crucial wildlife habitats. Importantly, this marks the first major approval of a water storage project in California since 2011.

This pivotal development aligns closely with President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda, which stands as a cornerstone of his broader economic strategy, known as Bidenomics. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, through the Bureau of Reclamation, is earmarking a total of $8.3 billion over five years to fund various water infrastructure projects. These projects encompass a wide range of critical areas, including water storage, conveyance, dam safety, water purification, reuse, and desalination.

The B.F. Sisk Dam Project received a significant financial boost with the announcement of $25 million in funding in October 2022, followed by an additional $10 million in July 2023. Furthermore, an extra $60 million was authorized for project construction under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. In total, the federal contribution for construction costs has reached an impressive $95 million.

Michael Brain, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, emphasized the significance of this milestone. He stated, “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, Reclamation has reached a major milestone today for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project, which will build water supply security for farmers and families in the region. As California and the West deal with historic drought conditions, the Biden-Harris administration is working in close coordination with local communities, states, and Tribes to build climate resilience and long-term water supply reliability for future generations.”

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Touton echoed this sentiment, noting that thanks to significant investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the B.F. Sisk Dam project will bolster California’s water supply reliability through increased storage capacity at the San Luis Reservoir.

The B.F. Sisk Dam, a substantial 382-foot high earthfill embankment located on the west side of the Central Valley, plays a pivotal role in the project. This dam extends over three miles and currently impounds San Luis Reservoir with a total capacity of around two million acre-feet of water.

Building on previous allocations, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law had previously allocated over $100 million to the B.F. Sisk Dam for a construction project already underway. This initial project focused on increasing the dam’s crest by 10 feet to enhance seismic safety. Expanding on this crucial groundwork, the Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are collaborating to add another 10 feet to the dam’s height. This expansion will unlock additional storage capacity in the reservoir, enabling the delivery of water to south-of-Delta water contractors and supporting vital wildlife refuges.

Cannon Michael, Chair of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board, underlined the project’s importance, emphasizing the critical role played by San Luis Reservoir in California’s water system south of the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay-Delta since its completion in 1967. The ability to capture more water in years of abundance, especially given California’s changing climate, is a critical component for a more secure future for the communities, farms, and wildlife dependent on the Central Valley Project for their water supply. The collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation is highly valued, and stakeholders look forward to the completion of this vital water storage project.

In summary, the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project stands as a significant milestone in California’s efforts to enhance water storage and supply security, particularly in the face of historic drought conditions and changing climate patterns. Through substantial federal investments and coordinated efforts, this project will contribute to the long-term water supply reliability for millions of people, vast agricultural lands, and vital ecological habitats.

Reporting by Emad Martin