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Executive Summary for July 27th

In this weekly roundup, we analyze key water developments around the West, including the announcement of Proposition 1 water storage money, a high-profile lawsuit in the Klamath Basin and a new plan for Hoover Dam.

Published on July 27, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Water Storage Funds Decided

On Tuesday, the California Water Commission approved around $2.5 billion in Proposition 1 money for eight water storage projects that would add 4.3 million acre-feet of capacity to California’s water storage.

The projects and the money aren’t quite a done deal yet, though. Proposition 1 funds will meet only some of the projects’ expected costs, so other funds will have to be raised and environmental permits and other requirements will need to be completed by January 1, 2022.

The funded projects include expanded reservoirs, new reservoirs and underground storage.

“Today marks a major milestone for the commission and project applicants,” commission chair Armando Quintero said. “After an intensive process, the commission has concluded that these eight storage projects will ensure the strongest return on the public’s investment. We applaud the applicants for their hard work to get to this point, and we are confident they will use this momentum to do the remaining work needed to secure these crucial investments in California’s water future.”

One of the project beneficiaries will be Sites Reservoir, which received $816 million for “what would become the largest water storage project built in the state since the 1970s,” according to the Sacramento Bee. But it’s still a disappointment for proponents trying to close the gap on a $5.2 billion price tag.

Conflict in the Klamath Basin

There’s no timeline yet for a decision on the most recent legal challenge to impact water users in Oregon’s Upper Klamath Basin.

The Klamath Tribes filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Service, in an attempt to have more water kept in Upper Klamath Lake to protect two endangered fish species, the shortnose and Lost River suckers.

Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin are worried a ruling in favor of the tribes would turn off irrigation water, causing significant economic impacts.

On July 20 a federal judge in San Francisco heard arguments in the case, but no decision has been made.

A New Plan for Hoover Dam?

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a new plan to turn Hoover Dam into a giant battery, according to a recent story in the New York Times.

The Times reports that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power “wants to equip it with a $3 billion pipeline and a pump station powered by solar and wind energy.” It says, “The pump station, downstream, would help regulate the water flow through the dam’s generators, sending water back to the top to help manage electricity at times of peak demand.” This, in effect, would turn the dam into a giant energy storage facility.

The $3 billion cost is not the only hurdle, though – there may be environmental impacts and political opposition, most likely from nearby communities, and the project would need the support of the Interior Department.

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