Anderson aerial view

State bill would allow Valley Water to select “best value” contractor for project to strengthen Anderson Dam

Valley Water’s top priority is to strengthen Anderson Dam, which holds back Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir, so it can safely withstand a strong earthquake.

Valley Water has made great progress in the past year, including lowering the water level in Anderson Reservoir. We will soon begin constructing a larger outlet tunnel next to the dam, which will allow us to better manage water levels in the reservoir. We anticipate construction on the tunnel to last two to three years.

Once the tunnel is complete, Valley Water will replace the existing dam to meet modern-day seismic standards. Valley Water is planning to begin the process of selecting a contractor for the dam retrofit in 2023.

Under current California law, Valley Water must select the contractor with the lowest bid, regardless of their experience. But a state bill introduced in January by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) would authorize Valley Water to use a method known as “best value” to select a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

The best value process allows a public agency to select a contactor based on a combination of price and qualifications versus just the lowest price.  The independent Board of Consultants, which consists of some of the nation’s most prominent dam safety experts, recommended the best value process for selection of a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project due to its complexity.

While Anderson Reservoir remains drained, Valley Water must make up lost supplies with water imported from outside the region. Best value contracting will help ensure that the contractor selected has the expertise to minimize any potential delays and get the dam built quickly and safely so that the reservoir can be restored to its maximum capacity.

AB 271 has received strong public and bipartisan support. On April 19, 2021, the State Assembly overwhelmingly passed Assemblymember Rivas’s bill, AB 271, which is coauthored by Senators John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), and Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley). 

AB 271 is now headed to the Senate for consideration. If approved by the Senate, AB 271 will be sent to the governor’s desk for consideration to be signed into law.

Valley Water will begin retrofitting the dam embankment and spillway once the tunnel is complete. We expect work on the dam and embankment to begin in 2024 and last about six years. Once completed, Valley Water will again be able to fill Anderson Reservoir to capacity.

Using AB 271’s best value method to select a contractor for this critical public safety and water supply project will help Valley Water ensure the best combination of price, expertise, and value.

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