With a cold winter storm bearing down on Morgan Hill, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrators joined local and regional representatives Feb. 23 at the top of Anderson Dam to announce the availability of $727 million in low-cost loans that will fund the rebuilding of the dam and other projects.
The loans for Valley Water, the water district that serves Santa Clara County, come from the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. Of the total $727 million, $580 million will go toward the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project—the cost of which has ballooned to more than $1.2 billion since it was initially planned more than 10 years ago.
A total of $147 million of the loans will go toward the district’s “Safe, Clean Water Projects,” including the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project, according to Valley Water staff.
At the Feb. 23 event, Valley Water Board of Directors Chair John Varela said the EPA loans will not only help complete the Anderson Dam project, but will keep water rates lower and end up saving money for the district, taxpayers and water rate payers.
The Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project is being constructed in multiple phases. In November, crews began building a 1,750-foot-long, 20-foot diameter diversion tunnel from the bottom of the dam into the floor of Anderson Reservoir. The tunnel is designed to allow the district to release much larger volumes of water from the reservoir in case of emergencies.
The tunnel is expected to be complete by 2024 at the earliest. From late 2024 to 2032, crews will build a new earthen Anderson Dam embankment.
The Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project became necessary after state authorities in 2009 determined that Anderson Dam would not withstand a major earthquake, and the crest of the dam could slump in such an event.
Although the district drained Anderson Reservoir to about 3% capacity late last year, the rainy winter has filled the water body to about 35% as of Feb. 24.
Another major project that will benefit from the EPA loans is Valley Water’s Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project. Officials noted that the Feb. 23 press conference occurred almost exactly six years after flooding along Coyote Creek resulted in more than $100 million in property damages.
The Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project is currently in the design phase, with a “pre-construction and update” meeting coming in May, according to Valley Water.