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Legislature Passes Assemblymember Rivas’s Bill to Expedite Seismic Retrofit of Silicon Valley Dam

For immediate release:

AB 3005 Ensures Significant Public Safety, Water Supply and Environmental Benefits for the Region

SACRAMENTO, August 31, 2020Today, the California State Legislature overwhelmingly passed AB 3005, the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley Act, authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). The bill received bipartisan support for important changes in law that will help facilitate the expedited and expert construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project in Santa Clara County – a project that is urgently needed to ensure the safety and water supply of the region.

“Today’s overwhelming vote of support by the Legislature underscores the critical importance of expediting the Anderson Dam project,” Assemblymember Rivas said. “The clock is ticking on a catastrophic dam failure in case of a large earthquake, and we can’t allow bureaucratic delay to increase risks to public safety, water security, and environmental protections.”

Built in 1950 and owned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water), Anderson Dam will not withstand an earthquake of magnitude 7.25 on the nearby Calaveras fault or of magnitude 6.6 on the Coyote Creek fault located directly beneath the dam. A breach of the dam at full capacity would have catastrophic consequences, flooding an area extending more than 30 miles northwest to San Francisco Bay, including the cities of San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Milpitas, and more than 40 miles southeast to Monterey Bay, including the cities of Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and Watsonville.

“The Anderson Dam project will not only protect Silicon Valley and South County from the devastation of a dam failure, but it also will create thousands of good-paying jobs that are so badly needed in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Valley Water Board Member John L. Varela, who represents the District (1) where Anderson Dam is located. “Getting this project construction underway as quickly as possible is Valley Water’s top priority, and that’s what AB 3005 will do.”

“I thank the California Legislature for rightfully prioritizing public safety by passing this bill,” said U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), who has been leading quarterly meetings with the Santa Clara County Congressional Delegation, Valley Water, and the four federal agencies involved in the Anderson Dam project. “Anderson Dam has already reached its capacity more than ten times and many of my constituents have yet to fully recover from the most recent 2017 floods. This is primarily a matter of public safety; expediting the Anderson Dam project helps prevent future damage, disruption, and the loss of lives.”

Beyond protecting thousands of Silicon Valley residents and local businesses from inundation, the $576 million Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project will help create 5,400 good-paying jobs beginning in 2021. The project will also have a multiplying effect on regional economic activity reaching far beyond the half-billion-dollar local infrastructure investment.

AB 3005 has received broad support from local governments, labor, business, open space and environmental advocates, as well as several members of the Bay Area’s Congressional Delegation.

As the bill heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration, Rivas said, “I urge the Governor to quickly sign this critical piece of legislation to help protect the health and safety of so many California residents.”

Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) represents California’s 30th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities and towns of Aromas, Big Sur, Chualar, Gilroy, Greenfield, Gonzales, Hollister, King City, Morgan Hill, Salinas, San Martin, San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Spreckels, and Watsonville.