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Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho statement on Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project

February 24, 2020

"Valley Water agrees with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it is vital we reduce the dam safety risk and move as quickly as possible with the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project (ADSRP). 

Studies have shown a large earthquake could damage Anderson Dam, causing an uncontrolled release of water that could inundate cities and rural areas from San Francisco Bay south to Monterey Bay, including much of Silicon Valley.

The ADSRP is complicated and time consuming. Valley Water has been working with several state and federal agencies through the years to secure the proper permits as the scope of the project has increased due to additional safety and design requirements, while also complying with federal statutes and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Clean Water Act.

Anderson Reservoir is currently operating below the current levels required by FERC and the state Division of Safety of Dams. FERC is demanding Valley Water begin a full drawdown of the reservoir by Oct. 1, 2020. 

A priority will be to design and build a large outlet pipe, which will provide greater control over the water levels and increase public safety.

We agree that the health and safety of residents is the number one priority. That is why Valley Water, with agreement from the FERC mandated independent Board of Consultants, put forward an operations plan on Oct. 31, 2019, that we believe would best decrease the risk of water reaching unsafe levels.

The demand to empty Anderson Reservoir could result in unsafe consequences. A top concern is the potential to damage the intake structure, which would give us no way to control water flows out of the reservoir, potentially impacting downstream communities.

Valley Water is also concerned about the environmental impacts of these new requirements. With the draining of the reservoir, experts would expect fish die-offs. The inability to keep a consistent flow in Coyote Creek downstream of the dam year-round would significantly impact sensitive native fish, amphibians, reptiles, wetlands, and riparian habitats. Water quality could also be significantly impacted downstream of the dam.  

With these new requirements, we expect to see an impact to groundwater basins that are replenished with water released from Anderson Reservoir, including South County and southern San Jose. Staff is already exploring other sources of water that will have to come from outside of the county. While residents have done an excellent job of conserving water since 2013, another drought during this timeframe could require everyone to significantly decrease their water use.  

A bill has been introduced in the California Legislature to help expedite the regulatory process and move this project along as quickly as possible. Valley Water continues to look at ways to engage local, state and federal lawmakers to help move this project forward in a timely manner.

Valley Water has heard from many residents about the importance of this project to their communities and we anticipate they will continue to be our greatest advocates.

Valley Water looks forward to working with all stakeholders to move with urgency on the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project."

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.