Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project | Santa Clara Valley Water
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Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project

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A 21st Century Solution Delivering Sustainable Benefits for All of Us

CLEAN AND SAFE WATER -- FLOOD RISK REDUCTION -- FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE

Our communities are all impacted by severe water challenges.  Climate change, a growing population, and an aging water infrastructure all challenge our water reliability.  More than ever before, our economy and communities need a 21st century solution to growing water needs.  

The Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project is a modern solution to the age-old challenges of providing a sustainable water supply for our expanding population and businesses.  Studied and vetted extensively for over ten years, this project will reduce the frequency and severity of water shortages, provide flood protection for disadvantaged communities, as well as protect and grow the native steelhead population.

Join our efforts to bring this game changing 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. 

Pacheco Reservoir map and proposed expansion
Pacheco Reservoir proposed expansion cross section

What does expanding Pacheco Reservoir mean to us?

Five consecutive years of drought, followed by a near record wet year, shows how unpredictable water supplies can become. This project provides an additional resource to maintain the region’s quality of life and economy by evening out the spikes of water supply compounded by climate change.  Fewer drought restrictions enable farmers to produce, water dependent businesses to succeed, and an ever-growing population to thrive.

As climate change is predicted to result in extreme weather episodes, flood protection becomes ever the more critical.  Many recall the 2017 flooding of Lovers Lane near the community of Dunneville. Emergency responders rescued dozens of families and their animals when storm waters burst through a Pacheco Creek levee.  Had this project been in place, flood stage at Dunneville would have been cut substantially.  Additionally, the disadvantaged communities of Watsonville and Pajaro will be safer with better flow retention on the North Fork Pacheco Creek and downstream Pajaro River.  These communities would be protected to the level of flood flows that occurred in 2017, bringing relief to an area with a long history of flooding incidents.

Pacheco Creek, unlike others on the Pajaro River watershed, lacks sufficient water to provide reliable habitat for the threatened South-Central California Steelhead trout. A more robust year-round water flow in Pacheco Creek will provide more than 10 miles of habitat for threatened steelhead enabling protection from drought events.  The resulting delivery of cooler water is expected to elevate the survival of steelhead eggs and fry in Pacheco Creek, helping ensure the long-term survival of this cold-water fish.  And, increased water flow provides an opportunity for another independent steelhead population in the Pajaro River Watershed to grow and thrive.

The Pacheco Reservoir is located 60 miles southeast of San Jose and sits north of Highway 152.   On the north folk of Pacheco Creek, the expanded reservoir project includes the construction of an earthen dam made of rock and other soil materials located within the footprint of the existing reservoir. The project will increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 to 140,000-acre feet, enough water to supply 1.4 million residents for a year. 

Join the growing list of supporters 

Here’s where you come in.  Be a part of the 62 environmental, community, non-profit and business organizations, along with elected leaders who have submitted letters supporting this project.

This project is widely supported by: 

  • Businesses
  • Agricultural Organizations
  • Disadvantaged Community Advocates
  • Labor Organizations
  • Cities and Counties
  • Water Agencies
  • Elected Officials
  • Natural Resources Groups
  • Civil Rights Groups

Opportunities to support, learn, and lead

We are committed to keeping you informed with our progress and to provide opportunities for your input on this project.  

Staff is available to provide presentations to civic, neighborhood, and stakeholder groups. To request a presentation, please contact: Rebecca Zisser, [email protected], or (408)630-2713.

If you have questions about the project, its benefits, or the grant application, please contact Dr. Melih Ozbilgin, Senior Water Resources Specialist, at (408) 630-2725 or by email at [email protected] You may also review the project’s frequently asked questions to learn more about the benefits.

Alternately, use our Access Valley Water customer request and information system to find out the latest information on district projects or to submit questions, complaints or compliments directly to a district staff person.