A collaboration between Valley Water, the San Benito County Water District, and the Pacheco Pass Water District, the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project is a strategic and long-term investment toward ensuring a more reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water in the face of climate change.
The project will boost Pacheco Reservoir’s operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough to supply up to 1.4 million residents with water for one year in an emergency. The project will also reduce the frequency and severity of water shortages during droughts, protect our drinking water supply and infrastructure, and improve fish habitat.
Public review period closed for Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project
Valley Water appreciates the comments received. Valley Water will spend the next several months reviewing the written comments to incorporate into the Draft EIR.
Virtual public information meeting held for Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project
Valley Water held a public meeting on Jan. 13, 2022, presented the draft EIR and answered questions. The Valley Water Board of Directors will consider approval of the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project following the completion of the Final Environmental Impact Report.
If you missed the meeting on Jan. 13, 2022, you can watch the recording by clicking on the link below.
Valley Water releases Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project
The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was made available for public review beginning Nov. 17. The public comment period ended on Feb. 15, 2022.
To review the draft EIR, click here.
Valley Water's Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project continues to remain eligible for state funding and will request federal assistance
On Nov. 9, 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors unanimously approved a funding commitment for the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project to remain eligible for up to $496 million in conditional funding from the state’s Prop 1 Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP).
On Dec. 15, 2021, the California Water Commission found the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project to be feasible and remain eligible or up to $496 million in conditional funding from WSIP.
On March 16, 2022, the California Water Commission increased the potential funding amounts for the seven projects in WSIP, increasing the total conditional funding for the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project to $504 million.
The WSIP funding represents a significant portion of the Pacheco project’s estimated $2.5 billion cost. Valley Water is exploring various dam alternatives that could reduce the cost to $2 billion.
We are actively looking at ways to bring down the costs to ratepayers. Beyond the $504 million in state money, we are looking at federal grants and the Biden administration’s infrastructure package. In April 2022, Valley Water will be submitting an application for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan, a low-cost federal loan that is typically cheaper than what Valley Water can borrow on its own, bringing down the financing costs needed to fund the project.
To share your ideas and feedback about the Pacheco Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, please visit our online engagement site Be Heard Valley Water.
Virtual public scoping meetings and open house
Valley Water issued a Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project in 2017 and solicited public scoping comments at that time. Valley Water recently hosted two virtual public scoping meetings and shared the latest news about the scope and content of the Project EIR that Valley Water is preparing. If you missed the meetings, you can watch the recordings by clicking on the links below.
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, from 1-3 p.m.
If you would like to see the presentation prior to the scoping meetings, please see the pre-recorded video below:
- (01/11/2021 update) Update to the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir includes changes to the dam, spillway and increased costs
- (01/31/2020 update) Expanding Pacheco Reservoir will ensure a more reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water for our region.
- (Jan 2020 update) Valley Water is now offering free half-day bus tours to some of our water infrastructure facilities. To learn more about upcoming tour dates and sign up, please visit our public tours webpage.
Water is our most precious resource. Climate change, droughts, and population growth pose significant challenges for the reliability of our water supply. Preparing for future dry years by ensuring a reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water is vital for the region. The Pacheco Project will help us provide a more reliable supply for you and your family.
Join the growing list of supporters
Join our efforts to bring this project to fruition. There is much to like in the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project as it delivers on the promises that earned a “Yes” vote for Prop. 1 by nearly three of every four San Benito and Santa Clara county voters in 2014.
Be a part of the 62 environmental, community, non-profit and businesses organizations, along with elected leaders, who have submitted letters supporting the project. Please join this wide-ranging group of supporters.
We are committed to keeping you informed with our progress and to provide opportunities for your input on this project. Please sign up for progress updates.
- Draft Environmental Impact Report (Nov. 17, 2021)
- Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project Frequently Asked Questions (February 2021)
- Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project Brochure (September 2020)
- Pacheco Reservoir Project - Public Benefits Fact Sheet August 2019
- Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project - Information Sheet March 2019
- Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project Water Commission presentation Dec 2017
- Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project - Public Benefits Fact Sheet 2018
- Notice of Preparation and Initial Study (2017)
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FY22-36 Key Performance Indicator for the Safe, Clean Water Program
1. Provide a portion of funds, up to $10 million, to help construct the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project.
Ensuring a more reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water
Safe and Clean Drinking Water – Emergency Water Supply – Improving Habitat for Fish – Flood Risk Reduction
A collaboration between Valley Water, the Pacheco Pass Water District and the San Benito County Water District, the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project is a strategic and long-term investment toward building a more reliable water supply in the face of climate change. The increased storage capacity at Pacheco Reservoir will nearly equal the capacity of Valley Water’s ten other reservoirs combined.
The project will also reduce the frequency and severity of water shortages during droughts, protect our drinking water supply and infrastructure, and improve habitat for fish. The Pacheco Project has also been named as the preliminary preferred option to address an issue of algae growth at San Luis Reservoir. Read more about the connection between the Pacheco Project and San Luis Reservoir here.
What does an expanded Pacheco Reservoir mean to us?
In Santa Clara and San Benito counties, about 40% of our water supply currently comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In the event of an earthquake, Delta levee failure or other major catastrophe, we could lose that water for up to 18 months. The project will boost Pacheco Reservoir’s operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough to supply up to 1.4 million residents for one year in an emergency.
In Santa Clara County, nearly half of all our water is pumped from underground basins.
During droughts and emergencies, there is a greater reliance on these aquifers, but overpumping groundwater could result in subsidence (the sinking of earth’s surface), which causes permanent damage to roads, bridges and pipelines. Expanding Pacheco Reservoir would double the amount of water we can store above ground, making us less reliant on our groundwater supply during droughts, which would replenish the groundwater supply and protect overlying infrastructure.
By expanding Pacheco Reservoir, managed water flows from the reservoir into Pacheco Creek would increase the quality of fish habitat downstream. The expanded reservoir would provide suitable flow and water temperatures to Pacheco Creek and improve approximately 10 miles of habitat to support the migration and survival of the South Central California Coast Steelhead.
The expanded Pacheco Reservoir will incidentally reduce flood risk along Pacheco Creek and downstream Pajaro River by holding back peak flows, offering some relief to disadvantaged communities in Dunneville, Watsonville and Pajaro.
Geographic Area of Benefit:
About Pacheco Reservoir
Located on the lower end of North Fork Pacheco Creek, the expanded reservoir project includes the construction of an earthen dam made of rock and soil upstream of the existing dam, a pump station, a pipeline and other supporting items. The expanded reservoir would be filled by a combination of rainfall, runoff from the watershed upstream of the new dam, and imported water supplies.
Water released from the reservoir will help threatened fish by keeping the Pacheco Creek flowing, before seeping into the underlying groundwater aquifer as it winds toward where it meets the Pajaro River.
The aquifer fed by Pacheco Reservoir begins at its northern tip in Santa Clara County and extends south into San Benito County. Agricultural users served by the Pacheco Pass and San Benito County water districts pump water from this aquifer.
Funding the project
In 2017, Valley Water, Pacheco Pass Water District and the San Benito County Water District collaborated in securing $484.5 million of the $1 billion project cost to increase Pacheco Reservoir's storage capacity and deliver water supply, water quality and ecosystems benefits to the region and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Funding to expand Pacheco Reservoir, located 60 miles southeast of San Jose, was secured from California’s Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The Act, passed by state voters as Proposition 1, provided $2.7 billion for investments in surface and groundwater storage projects, under the Act’s Water Storage Investment Program.
In early 2021, the Pacheco project was awarded about $12 million in additional funding from Prop 1, bringing the total to about $486.6 million. You can see all the projects that have received funding from Prop 1 at the California Water Commission website.
Currently, Valley Water has entered into an early funding agreement for $24.2 million with the California Water Commission to share project planning and environmental studies costs. Valley Water is presently conducting studies, investigations and surveys to design and evaluate potential environmental impacts and feasibility. The draft environmental impact report is expected to be released by 2022.
In 2020, Valley Water performed a more detailed design study which included an updated cost estimate. This design study indicated that construction costs for the proposed project had increased to about $2.5 billion, prompted largely by major changes to the dam and spillway design.
In November 2020, Santa Clara County voters approved the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, which provides up to $10 Million to help construct the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project.
Staff is available to provide presentations to civic, neighborhood, and stakeholder groups. To request a presentation, please contact: Mark Gomez, [email protected], or (408) 630-2985. You may also review the project’s frequently asked questions to learn more about the benefits.
About the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program
In November 2020, voters in Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure S, a renewal of Valley Water’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.
The program was first passed by voters in 2000 as the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, then again in 2012 as the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The renewal of the Safe, Clean Water Program will continue to provide approximately $47 million annually for local projects that deliver safe, clean water, natural flood protection, and environmental stewardship to all the communities we serve in Santa Clara County.
While evaluating ways to improve the 2012 program, Valley Water gathered feedback from more than 21,000 community members. That helped Valley Water create the six priorities for the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program, which are:
Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
Priority C: Protect our Water Supply and Dams from Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools, Streets and Highways
Priority F: Support Public Health and Public Safety for Our Community
Each year, Valley Water prepares a report providing a progress update for each of these program priorities, along with fiscal year accomplishments.
To ensure transparency and accountability to the voters, the ballot measure also created an Independent Monitoring Committee, appointed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. The Independent Monitoring Committee annually reviews the program’s progress to ensure the outcomes are achieved in a cost-efficient manner and reports its findings to the Board. Additionally, the IMC also reviews each proposed 5-year implementation plan prior to its submittal for Board approval.
In addition, the program requires three independent audits.
Updated: May 2021