As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, investments in B.F. Sisk Dam expansion represent first approval of a major water storage project in California since 2011
Today, the Department of the Interior and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority approved plans to implement the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. The joint project will create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage space in San Luis Reservoir, the nation’s largest offstream reservoir, producing additional water supply for two million people, over one million acres of farmland and 135,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands and critical wildlife habitat. Today’s signing of the Record of Decision and Notice of Determination is the first approval of a major water storage project in California since 2011.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda – a key component of Bidenomics – represents the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and is providing much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water storage and conveyance, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination. A $25 million investment to the project under the Law was announced in October 2022 and an additional $10 million in July 2023. An additional $60 million was authorized for project construction from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, for a total of $95 million in federal contributions to date in construction costs.
“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,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain. “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.”
“I’m thrilled to be here today with our state and local partners on the banks of San Luis Reservoir to make this important project a reality,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Touton. “Thanks to major investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this project will allow us to secure the B.F. Sisk Dam and contribute to California’s water supply reliability through increased storage capacity at San Luis Reservoir.
B.F. Sisk Dam is a 382-foot high earthfill embankment located on the west side of the Central Valley, about 12 miles west of Los Banos. The dam is over three miles long and impounds San Luis Reservoir, which has a current total capacity of around two million acre-feet of water.
Previously, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided over $100 million to the B.F. Sisk Dam for a project currently under construction that will increase the dam crest by 10 feet to improve seismic safety. Leveraging this existing project, Reclamation and the Authority are partnering to add an additional 10 feet to the dam through today’s announcement to allow for expansion of the reservoir’s storage capacity. The expanded space will store water that can be delivered to south-of-Delta water contractors and wildlife refuges.
“San Luis Reservoir has served as the hub of California’s water system south of the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay-Delta since its completion in 1967,” said San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board Chair Cannon Michael. “The ability to capture more water in the years it is available, particularly given California’s changing climate, is a critical component of a more secure future for the communities, farms and wildlife dependent on the Central Valley Project for their water supply. We value our partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation and look forward to completion of this vital water storage project.”
Visit https://www.usbr.gov/mp/sccao/sisk/index.html to learn more about B.F. Sisk Dam and San Luis Reservoir.