Assemblymember Rivas Introduces Legislation to Speed Construction of Anderson Dam Project Bill Would Streamline Permitting Process and Court Review for Critical Earthquake Retrofit

Monday, March 9, 2020

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) has introduced Assembly Bill 3005, the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley Act, a bill that will expedite the reconstruction of Anderson Dam, located in Morgan Hill. This important legislation will facilitate the speedy and expert construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project, protecting lives and property from dam failure, reducing flood risk for downstream communities, and restoring capacity of clean, safe drinking water for the region.

Built in 1950 and owned by Valley Water, Anderson Dam would not withstand the current maximum credible earthquake on the nearby Calaveras and Coyote Creek faults. 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 José, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Milpitas, and more than 40 miles southeast to Monterey Bay, including the cities of Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and Watsonville.

“The failure of Anderson Dam at full capacity during an earthquake would mean catastrophic loss of life and property, sending a flood of water through Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Watsonville, San Martin and a large swath of Silicon Valley all the way to San Francisco Bay,” said Assemblymember Rivas. “Local, state, and federal authorities all have a responsibility to ensure that Anderson Dam is made seismically safe as quickly and efficiently as possible. AB 3005 will help ensure the State of California does its part to expedite this critical project.”

The legislation would require the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue necessary permits within three to four months after permit applications are submitted, instead of up to two years as is typical for projects of this size and scope. It would also require expedited judicial review of state court challenges to an Environmental Impact Report issued in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This same expedited judicial review applies to some sports arenas and other projects in the state.

Assembly Bill 3005 provides a sensible solution for accelerating the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project while making sure that adequate environmental safeguards are in place and that the region’s water supply is protected for all residents.