SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) – A South Bay water district is considering a plan to build a massive new dam that would add a lot more water storage to the Pacheco Reservoir.
The reservoir sits along Highway 152 over Pacheco Pass in southern Santa Clara County.
The proposed expansion would nearly double the water district’s storage capacity, something desperately needed after years of drought.
“We’ve had probably one of the most severe droughts on record. 2014, 2015, 2016 were tough,” said said Garth Hall, acting CEO for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
Nestled in the hills above Gilroy, the Pacheco Reservoir project would not be a quick, cheap fix. Planning and construction could last more than a decade. The price tag for the project is currently estimated at around $800 million.
“Having to call for very deep water use reductions and having the anxiety of consumers everywhere about the adequacy of our water supply is not something we want to repeat again,” said Hall.
After an exceptionally wet winter in which local reservoirs filled and spilled over, there is still a dire need for increased water storage.
If the project gets the green light, the reservoir would hold 140,000 acre feet of water. Enough, in theory, to supply nearly 300,000 homes for an entire year.
“Those who plan for water understand that we have to plan not only for the wet conditions but for the very dry,” said Hall.