Expanding Pacheco Reservoir would help provide emergency supply of safe, clean drinking water

On the heels of one of the driest Februarys on record, Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future wet and dry years to ensure Santa Clara County’s two million residents have a reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water.

Valley Water is working to meet this challenge through a variety of efforts, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in Southern Santa Clara County. This partnership with the San Benito County Water District and Pacheco Pass Water District will increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for a year.

Climate change is a global reality, and the weather is expected to be more extreme in the future. It is predicted that climate change will result in more spring runoff and less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. That means more water will be available to pump from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta but in much shorter windows.

This scenario is exactly why a reservoir such as an expanded Pacheco is needed. The proposed expansion will provide the flexibility to rapidly capture and store water when conditions in the Delta are ideal.

By increasing the reservoir’s capacity, Valley Water and its partners will have the ability to receive and store more water at a lower cost from the state and federal government in wetter years when there’s a surplus. Currently, some of that water often goes unused because of a lack of storage space.

The expanded Pacheco Reservoir will allow us to store these excess flows and deliver during droughts and other shortages.

When Valley Water applied for and was conditionally approved for $484.5 million in Proposition 1 funds for the Project, we looked at 2030 and 2070 future conditions with climate change. This was done to make sure the reservoir is not only viable today but withstands the changes expected in the future.

The enlarged reservoir will also capture more runoff from the North Fork Pacheco Creek watershed than the existing one does today, which will further benefit the threatened South-Central California Coast Steelhead.

By investing in the improvements on the Pacheco Reservoir now, communities will be better prepared with a reliable water supply in the face of extreme weather conditions brought on by the changing climate.

To receive the latest information about the project or upcoming meetings, please sign up on the project’s webpage at valleywater.org/pachecoexpansion.

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