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Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera statement on California Water Commission finding Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project feasible for Prop 1 Water Storage Investment Program funding

December 16, 2021
Pacheco Dam

Valley Water is pleased the California Water Commission unanimously determined the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in Santa Clara County is a feasible project, allowing it to remain eligible for up to $496 million in conditional funding from the state’s Prop 1 Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP).

Based on the project’s extensive public benefits, the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project in 2018 received the highest rating under the WSIP program among all the project applicants.

The primary goal of the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project is to help ensure a more reliable water supply for all communities in Santa Clara County by replacing the loss of Sierra snowpack due to climate change with local, in-county water storage. The proposed project could boost Pacheco Reservoir’s operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough to supply 1.4 million people with safe, clean water for one year in an emergency.

The Pacheco project aims to reduce the frequency and severity of water shortages during droughts, provide water supply during emergencies, and improve the habitat for the native population of steelhead trout, a species federally listed as threatened. 

An expanded Pacheco Reservoir would allow Valley Water to store water when it’s most available and least expensive, which could be used in dry years and droughts. Currently, we don’t have the capacity to store extra water during wet winters.

Beyond the $496 million in state money, we are looking at federal grants and the Biden administration’s infrastructure package. Also, Valley Water received good news earlier this month when the United States Environmental Agency invited the Pacheco Project to apply for WIFIA funding. This low-cost federal loan for up to $1.2 billion would help bring down the financing costs.

My fellow Board Members and I continue to evaluate the Pacheco project and its various alternatives. We know there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, including completing the project’s environmental impact report.

We also are moving forward with our plan to expand our county’s use of Purified Water, continuing to offer water conservation incentives, and evaluating other water storage opportunities such as the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 285 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 294 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.