After five years of extreme drought, California is finally getting some relief this winter. Major rain storms have already ended drought conditions in the northern part of the state. In fact, there has been so much rain that reservoirs in northern California are releasing millions of gallons of fresh water into the ocean to prevent overflows. CBS Sacramento reports on this wasted opportunity:

California built its last major reservoir in 1979 when the population was 23 million people.

Now the population is 39 million people – 16 million more people, using the same reservoir storage supply.

Earlier this month KCRA reported on a proposed new reservoir north of Sacramento which has bipartisan support:

It would divert excess water from the Sacramento River and divert it to the reservoir, which could store enough water to serve nearly 4 million Californians a year.

State Senator Jim Nielsen, a Republican from Tehama County called it, “the first massive storage since Lake Oroville in the early ‘60’s.”…

“All this water going out to the ocean through the Delta, and potentially, we could store this and save it for a rainy day,” [Democrat Kevin] McCarthy said.

Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher of Plumas Lake told KCRA 3, “When you look at Sites, this benefits the entire state. There could be water for people north of the Delta and south of the Delta.”

But not everyone supports the creation of a new reservoir. The Sierra Club’s Kyle Jones tells CBS Sacramento, “It’s a 20th-century answer to a 21st-century problem that we have going forward with increased droughts and climate change.” He adds, “We’re gonna have to look at more innovate ways to create new water supplies.”

Here’s CBS Sacramento’s report on the current reservoir overflow: