//California reservoir ordered to be drained over fears earthquake might collapse dam

California reservoir ordered to be drained over fears earthquake might collapse dam

As California experiences a probably record-breaking dry February, federal regulators have ordered that a big reservoir south of San Jose be drained as a result of fears a dam might collapse in an earthquake, sending a torrent of water into Silicon Valley.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered final week that the Anderson Reservoir be utterly drained by Oct. 1 as a result of fears the 240-foot excessive earthen Anderson Dam poses too nice a danger of collapse if a big earthquake strikes.

“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 FERC’s Division of Dam Security and Inspections, wrote in a letter Thursday to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which owns the reservoir.


Anderson Reservoir was in-built 1950 between San Jose and the neighborhood of Morgan Hill and might maintain 90,000 acre-feet of water. The reservoir is the most important in Santa Clara County and holds greater than half the water district’s capability in all of its services.

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

Anderson Dam might fail in a 7.2 magnitude quake or stronger, in accordance with an evaluation.

Since 2009, the dam’s water stage has been saved at a most of 74 p.c of capability due to an evaluation that it might fail in a 7.2 magnitude quake or stronger. The reservoir is constructed alongside the Calaveras Fault. On Monday, amid the threat of another drought in California, Anderson Reservoir was simply 29 p.c full.

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

The Anderson Reservoir is a vital water provide for some two million clients in Northern California.

A seismic retrofit undertaking has been underway due to its state classification in 2017 as being an “extraordinarily excessive” downstream hazard.

“Research have proven a big earthquake might harm Anderson Dam, inflicting an uncontrolled launch of water that would inundate cities and rural areas from San Francisco Bay south to Monterey Bay, together with a lot of Silicon Valley,” according to the water district.

In 2019, Valley Water produced a video depicting a worst-case situation if a filled-to-capacity Anderson Dam failed within the occasion of a serious earthquake, which confirmed main flooding in Coyote Creek that stretched all the best way to San Jose. Coyote Creek flows from the dam by means of downtown San Jose to San Francisco Bay.

The specter of flooding is recent on the minds of many within the area. Greater than 14,000 residents needed to be evacuated in 2017 as water from swollen Coyote Creek flooded properties and quickly shut down a portion of a freeway, in accordance with The Related Press.

On Monday, the water district stated it agreed with the federal fee’s evaluation the reservoir needs to be drained forward of the “difficult and time consuming” retrofit undertaking.


“Valley Water has been working with a number of state and federal companies by means of the years to safe the correct permits because the scope of the undertaking has elevated as a result of further security and design necessities,” Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho stated.

“A precedence can be to design and construct a big outlet pipe, which can present larger management over the water ranges and enhance public security,” she added within the assertion.

Camacho stated draining the most important reservoir within the district will doubtless kill wildlife downstream in Coyote Creek, together with endangered steelhead trout, amphibians and reptiles.

Along with environmental impacts, a dry winter has the Golden State probably heading into a brand new drought.

Saved water is a crucial a part of the south San Francisco Bay Space’s provide — with sufficient water for the annual wants of at the very least 130,000 individuals in addition to what the district considers an emergency provide.

“Whereas residents have carried out a wonderful job of conserving water since 2013, one other drought throughout this timeframe might require everybody to considerably lower their water use,” Camacho stated.


The company is exploring different sources of water from outdoors Santa Clara County, comparable to from main reserves in Kern County, Valley Water District Government Nina Hawk told 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 as a result of a excessive danger to the general public within the occasion of a major earthquake. The Anderson Reservoir is the most important in Santa Clara County and alongside sits the Calaveras Fault.

“That is greater than we might use in a single 12 months,” Hawk stated. “That water is accessible for us to deliver into the county to be used for our residents coming into this 12 months,”

Since clients have tremendously diminished water use as a matter of behavior after the latest drought, officers consider they’ve greater than sufficient water to satisfy regular utilization whereas retrofitting of the large dam is ongoing.

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

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

“It is anticipated that this building might take anyplace from two to probably 5 years however it’s decided upon the allowing course of, the environmental laws and make it possible for we achieve this in a secure method and we achieve this in compliance with the legal guidelines and the laws,” Hawk advised KTVU.

As a part of the reconstruction course of, the Anderson Dam can be partially deconstructed and its infrastructure changed with stronger supplies earlier than it’s recovered with earth to finish the method. This course of is alleged to be a quicker and extra financial substitute than if the earth, metal, and concrete had been used, in accordance with KTVU.

The Related Press contributed to this report.