Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Earthquake Risk Prompts Order to Drain California Dam
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 years ago on
February 25, 2020

Share

SAN JOSE — Worried that an earthquake could collapse a big dam south of San Francisco, officials have ordered its reservoir to be completely drained by October to reduce the risk of floodwaters spilling into Silicon Valley.

“It is unacceptable to maintain the reservoir at an elevation higher than necessary when it can be reduced, thereby decreasing the risk to public safety and the large population downstream.” — David Capka, director of the commission’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections 
The 240-foot high earthen Anderson Dam, built in 1950 between San Jose and the community of Morgan Hill, poses too great a risk of collapse and must be fully drained by Oct. 1, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, the Mercury News reported.
“It is unacceptable to maintain the reservoir at an elevation higher than necessary when it can be reduced, thereby decreasing the risk to public safety and the large population downstream,” David Capka, director of the commission’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, wrote last week in a letter to the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
Since 2009, the dam’s water level has been kept at a maximum of 74 percent of capacity because of an assessment that it could fail in a 7.2 quake. The reservoir is built along the Calaveras Fault. On Monday, amid the threat of another drought in California, Anderson Reservoir was just 29% full.
A seismic retrofit project has been underway because of its state classification in 2017 as being an “extremely high” downstream hazard.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District said in a statement Monday that officials agree with the commission’s assessment that the reservoir should be drained ahead of the retrofit project, which is “complicated and time consuming.”

If the Dam Collapsed, Runoff Could Damage Cities

“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,” Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho said.
“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,” she added in the statement.
Camacho said draining the largest reservoir in the district will likely kill wildlife downstream in Coyote Creek, including endangered steelhead trout, amphibians and reptiles. Coyote Creek flows from the dam through downtown San Jose to San Francisco Bay.
If the dam collapsed, runoff could damage cities and rural areas from the San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the south, including much of Silicon Valley, the water district said in a statement.
More than 14,000 residents had to be evacuated in 2017 as water from swollen Coyote Creek, downstream of the Anderson Reservoir, flooded homes and temporarily shut down a portion of a freeway.

California May Be Heading Into a New Drought

It came the same month as a spillway failed at the nation’s tallest dam, in Oroville in Northern California, leading officials to order the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. The dam ultimately held, but an independent investigation cited ”a long-term systemic failure ” by regulators and the dam industry to recognize and address warning signs.

“While residents have done an excellent job of conserving water since 2013, another drought during this time frame could require everyone to significantly decrease their water use.” — Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho
California spent $1.1 billion repairing the Lake Oroville spillway, enacted new emergency plan requirements and launched a review of 93 other dams with similar spillways.
An AP investigation last year identified at least 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
Complicating the issue this year, California may be heading into a new drought.
Stored water is an important part of the south San Francisco Bay Area’s supply — with enough water for the annual needs of at least 130,000 people as well as what the district considers an emergency supply.
“While residents have done an excellent job of conserving water since 2013, another drought during this time frame could require everyone to significantly decrease their water use,” Camacho said.
The agency is exploring other sources of water from outside Santa Clara County, she said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

DON'T MISS

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

DON'T MISS

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

DON'T MISS

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

DON'T MISS

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have Execute It’: FUSD Board President

DON'T MISS

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

DON'T MISS

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

DON'T MISS

California Court to Decide on Transgender Ballot Measure Wording

DON'T MISS

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

DON'T MISS

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

UP NEXT

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

Finding an Apartment May Be Easier for California Pet Owners Under New Legislation

UP NEXT

Who Owns Businesses in California? A Lawmaker Wants the Public to Know

UP NEXT

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

UP NEXT

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

UP NEXT

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

13 hours ago

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have Execute It’: FUSD Board President

13 hours ago

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

13 hours ago

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

14 hours ago

California Court to Decide on Transgender Ballot Measure Wording

15 hours ago

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

16 hours ago

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

16 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: How High Will the Price of Gold & Silver Go?

Video /

17 hours ago

How 4/20 Grew From Humble Roots to Marijuana’s High Holiday

18 hours ago

Taylor Swift Drops 15 New Songs on Double Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology’

18 hours ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

NEW YORK — Police officials said they were reviewing whether to restrict access to a public park outside the courthouse where former Preside...

11 hours ago

11 hours ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

11 hours ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

12 hours ago

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

13 hours ago

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

13 hours ago

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have Execute It’: FUSD Board President

13 hours ago

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

14 hours ago

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

15 hours ago

California Court to Decide on Transgender Ballot Measure Wording

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend