California dam ordered to be drained over fears earthquake would possibly well give way building

By | February 26, 2020

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As California experiences a potentially file-breaking dry February, federal regulators beget ordered that a worthy reservoir south of San Jose be drained attributable to fears a dam would possibly well give way in an earthquake, sending a torrent of water into Silicon Valley.

The Federal Vitality Regulatory Price ordered final week that the Anderson Reservoir be completely drained by Oct. 1 attributable to fears the 240-foot excessive earthen Anderson Dam poses too gargantuan a danger of give way if a worthy earthquake strikes.

“It’s unacceptable to abet the reservoir at an elevation better than the largest when it will most likely well well even be diminished, thereby lowering the likelihood to public safety and the worthy population downstream,” David Capka, director of FERC’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, wrote in a letter Thursday to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which owns the reservoir.


Anderson Reservoir became built in 1950 between San Jose and the neighborhood of Morgan Hill and can protect 90,000 acre-ft of water. The reservoir is the splendid in Santa Clara County and holds better than half of the water district’s skill in all of its amenities.

Anderson Dam could fail in a 7.2 magnitude quake or stronger, according to an assessment.

Anderson Dam would possibly well fail in a 7.2 magnitude quake or stronger, per an assessment.

Since 2009, the dam’s water level has been kept at a maximum of 74 percent of skill as a consequence of of an assessment that it goes to also fail in a 7.2 magnitude quake or stronger. The reservoir is built along the Calaveras Fault. On Monday, amid the likelihood of 1 other drought in California, Anderson Reservoir became accurate 29 percent paunchy.

The Anderson Reservoir is a crucial water supply for some two million customers in Northern California.

The Anderson Reservoir is a mandatory water provide for some two million potentialities in Northern California.

A seismic retrofit project has been underway as a consequence of of its speak classification in 2017 as being an “extremely excessive” downstream hazard.

“Examine beget shown a worthy earthquake would possibly well hurt Anderson Dam, causing an uncontrolled begin of water that would possibly well also inundate cities and rural areas from San Francisco Bay south to Monterey Bay, including powerful of Silicon Valley,” per the water district.

In 2019, Valley Water produced a video depicting a worst-case scenario if a filled-to-skill Anderson Dam failed in the occasion of a first-rate earthquake, which showed main flooding in Coyote Creek that stretched the total formula to San Jose. Coyote Creek flows from the dam through downtown San Jose to San Francisco Bay.

The likelihood of flooding is exclusive on the minds of many in the speak. Bigger than 14,000 residents had to be evacuated in 2017 as water from swollen Coyote Creek flooded homes and in fast shut down a portion of a exiguous-salvage entry to freeway, per The Linked Press.

On Monday, the water district said it agreed with the federal rate’s assessment the reservoir must be drained ahead of the “refined and time ingesting” retrofit project.


“Valley Water has been working with lots of speak and federal agencies during the years to stable the lawful permits because the scope of the project has increased attributable to extra safety and invent requirements,” Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho said.

“A precedence will be to invent and affect a worthy outlet pipe, which is capable of operate better protect watch over over the water levels and make better public safety,” she added in the assertion.

Camacho said draining the splendid reservoir in the district will likely destroy wildlife downstream in Coyote Creek, including endangered steelhead trout, amphibians and reptiles.

To boot to environmental impacts, a dry iciness has the Golden Inform potentially heading into a brand contemporary drought.

Saved water is a mandatory fragment of the south San Francisco Bay Apartment’s provide — with ample water for the annual wants of no longer no longer as a lot as 130,000 folks moreover what the district considers an emergency provide.

“Whereas residents beget performed an perfect-wanting job of conserving water since 2013, one other drought at some level of this timeframe would possibly well require all people to vastly decrease their water spend,” Camacho said.


The company is exploring other sources of water from out of doors Santa Clara County, equivalent to from main reserves in Kern County, Valley Water District Govt Nina Hawk educated KTVU.

The Santa Clara County Water District is moving forward with plans to drain the Anderson Reservoir due to a high risk to the public in the event of a significant earthquake. The Anderson Reservoir is the largest in Santa Clara County and along sits the Calaveras Fault.

The Santa Clara County Water District is transferring ahead with plans to empty the Anderson Reservoir attributable to a excessive danger to the public in the occasion of a first-rate earthquake. The Anderson Reservoir is the splendid in Santa Clara County and along sits the Calaveras Fault.

“That’s better than we would spend in a single year,” Hawk said. “That water is readily available for us to negate into the county to be used for our residents coming into this year,”

Since potentialities beget greatly diminished water spend as a topic of habit after the most most novel drought, officials accept as true with they’ve better than ample water to meet smartly-liked usage while retrofitting of the massive dam is ongoing.

Water lines are visible along the banks of the Anderson Reservoir on February 25, 2020 in Morgan Hill, California.

Water lines are visible along the banks of the Anderson Reservoir on February 25, 2020 in Morgan Hill, California.
(Picture by Justin Sullivan/Getty Pictures)

“It be anticipated that this building would possibly well remove wherever from two to potentially five years on the opposite hand it is positive upon the permitting job, the environmental regulations and make certain we operate so in a stable formula and we operate so in compliance with the regulations and the regulations,” Hawk educated KTVU.

As fragment of the reconstruction job, the Anderson Dam will be partially deconstructed and its infrastructure replaced with stronger materials earlier than it is recovered with earth to total the diagram. This job is meant to be a sooner and more financial alternative than if the earth, steel, and concrete were aged, per KTVU.

The Linked Press contributed to this file.