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Amid Drought, California Advances Big New Reservoir Project

A barbed wire fence runs along a ranch in Sites, Calif., on July 23, 2021. This ranch would be underwater once the Sites Reservoir is completed. On Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, the California Water Commission voted to advance what could be California's first new major reservoir in decades. Wednesday's vote is a big step for the project to receive more than $800 million in taxpayer funding, or about 20% of the total cost of the project. (AP Photo/Adam Beam, File)
A barbed wire fence runs along a ranch in Sites, Calif., on July 23, 2021. This ranch would be underwater once the Sites Reservoir is completed. On Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, the California Water Commission voted to advance what could be California's first new major reservoir in decades. Wednesday's vote is a big step for the project to receive more than $800 million in taxpayer funding, or about 20% of the total cost of the project. (AP Photo/Adam Beam, File)
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Sacramento, Calif. (AP) -- Amid a severe drought, California regulators on Wednesday advanced what could be the state's first major new water storage project in years despite warnings it would hasten the extinction of an endangered salmon species while disrupting the cultural traditions of some native tribes.

The plan is to build a new lake in Northern California that, when full, could hold enough water to supply 3 million households for one year. Supporters need about $4 billion to build it. Wednesday's vote by the California Water Commission means the lake — named Sites Reservoir — is eligible for about $800 million in taxpayer money, or about 20% of the project's price tag.