Governor Newsom signs bill to allow Valley Water to select “best value” contractor for project to strengthen Anderson Dam

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a state bill on July 9 that will allow Valley Water to use a method known as “best value” to select a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

Under current California law, Valley Water must select the contractor with the lowest bid, regardless of their experience. But Assembly Bill 271, signed by Gov. Newsom and overwhelmingly passed by the California Legislature, authorizes Valley Water to use a method known as “best value” to select a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

“The Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project is the top priority for Valley Water, not only for public safety but for our local water supply as we face another historic drought,” Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said. “On behalf of the Valley Water Board of Directors and the people of Santa Clara County, I would like to express our sincere thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom, Assemblymember Robert Rivas, Senator John Laird, and to all the coauthors of this bill to ensure the safe and timely completion of this critical public safety and water supply project.”

AB 271, introduced in January by Assemblymember Rivas (D-Hollister), was approved by the California State Legislature with near unanimous, bipartisan support.  

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 convened under federal law and 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.

“Having enough clean water is crucial for our region, particularly as we face this drought,” said Valley Water Board Member John Varela, who represents District 1 where Anderson Dam is located. “Strengthening Anderson Dam will help us protect our regional water supply, ensure public safety, and provide environmental benefits. We are committed to completing this project as quickly and safely as possible so that the reservoir can be restored to its maximum capacity.”

Valley Water has made great progress in the past year in our work at Anderson Dam, including breaking ground on July 7 on a project to build a larger outlet tunnel next to the dam. The new outlet tunnel will allow Valley Water to better manage water levels in the reservoir. We anticipate construction on the tunnel to last approximately three years.

Once the tunnel is complete, Valley Water will replace the existing dam to meet the latest dam safety and seismic standards. Valley Water is planning to release the Request For Proposal to select a contractor for the dam retrofit in 2023.

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.

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 be finished in 2030. At that time, 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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