Teresa Alvarado led her last meeting this week as chair of the California Water Commission. Alvarado cited personal and professional demands in stepping down and held back tears while calling her service on the commission an incredible honor and a true joy.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed her to the commission in August 2019, Alvarado was working at an urban land planning organization in San Francisco. She took a position last summer as a regional vice president for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The eight-member commission is set to cast the deciding vote later this year on approving funding for the Sites Reservoir project proposal. On Wednesday, two commissioners voted against a measure to allocate an additional $25 million to Sites and have been skeptical that Sites will meet the environmental marks set out in the Proposition 1 water bond. But the six votes in favor indicate broader support for Sites, even without Alvarado.

EPA, meanwhile, has invited the Sites sponsors to apply for a $2.2 billion loan through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. According to proponents, this will bring the project significantly closer to construction and completion.

Looking for the best, most comprehensive and balanced news source in agriculture? Our Agri-Pulse editors don't miss a beat! Sign up for a free month-long subscription.

California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla immediately applauded the announcement.

“I’m pleased that California is finally on the verge of constructing several major storage projects,” said Feinstein in a statement. “Sites Reservoir is the largest and will provide the most significant benefits for our water system.”

Padilla added that Sites would “help prevent runoff water from being wasted.”