The Army and Navy have agreed to extend their $2.9 billion commitment to the San Vicentes Reservoir for at least five years, as they look to address a long-standing drought crisis, officials announced Thursday.
The two agencies also agreed to work together to provide the reservoir with more drinking water for the next five years.
“It’s a really important thing for us to keep it there, to keep that money there for the long-term,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Thursday.
“We’re doing it to make sure that we’re doing what we can to keep this reservoir running as long as possible.”
The water from the reservoir, which provides drinking water to about 500,000 people in Southern California, has been drying out in recent years, prompting local and federal agencies to issue drought emergency orders.
The San Vicents reservoir is located in the Mojave Desert, and the Army Corps of Engineers says it is a key water source for agricultural operations in Southern and Central California.
The reservoir was once home to millions of cattle, but the population has been dropping.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says it expects the population of California’s 1.6 million cattle to decline by more than 40 percent by 2020.
In addition, there are concerns that livestock could become displaced by the drought.
In the last year, the federal government has issued a number of drought emergency declarations and water restrictions, including for the San Bernardino National Forest.
The San Vicientes Reservage is about 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of San Diego, in the Sierra Nevada foothills.