Asm. Robert Rivas Introduces Bill to Assist Timely, Expert Completion of Anderson Dam Project

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Building on Assemblymember Rivas’ efforts last year, AB 271 authorizes Valley Water to hire the best, most skilled contractors to move critical project forward

SACRAMENTO – In a move to protect the Silicon Valley area and Assembly District 30 from potential flooding and destruction, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) introduced today Assembly Bill 271 to assist the revitalization and earthquake retrofitting of Anderson Dam, located in Morgan Hill. With Anderson Dam having been deemed an “unacceptably high” seismic risk by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it is critical that this project be completed in a timely, safe, and expert way—and AB 271 helps ensure that will happen.

“As it stands today, the Anderson Dam is over 70 years old and was built before engineers knew about the two nearby fault lines, including one directly under the dam,” Asm. Rivas said. “With an earthquake large enough, it could spell disaster for hundreds of thousands of residents throughout the region. To ensure people are protected from flooding, Valley Water must have the ability to pick the best team to lead this project and is not forced to simply pick the cheapest option. This is the right thing to do, given the complexity of the project, and will help guarantee our friends and neighbors that their lives, homes, and jobs are safe from disaster.”

Specifically, the “best value” contracting provisions in AB 271 authorize Valley Water to select the most skilled and trained construction contractors for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. Currently, Valley Water is required to select the contractors offering the lowest bid, regardless of their experience.

“I thank Assemblymember Rivas for introducing this bill to improve the contracting method for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project,” said U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), who has been leading quarterly meetings on the Anderson Dam Project at the federal level. “For the sake of all residents and businesses, we must ensure that the most qualified contractors are entrusted with this top priority construction project to prevent future damage, disruption, and loss of lives.”

Built in 1950 to the safety standards of the day, Anderson Dam is perched above the Santa Clara Valley, home to nearly 2 million people and the center of California’s technology economy. Experts estimate that a magnitude 7.25 earthquake on the Calaveras Fault centered less than 1.25 miles from the dam, or a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on the Coyote Creek Fault centered beneath the dam, could significantly damage the dam embankment and lead to dam failure and the uncontrolled release of water.

“Assembly Bill 271 will ensure Anderson Dam is properly constructed using up-to-date science and information,” said Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), a principal coauthor of the bill. “It is critical that we protect the interests of our residents and our economy now, rather than being shortsighted in our approach with a catastrophic outcome later down the road.” 

Coauthored by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), AB 271 is expected to have broad support in the Legislature. Asm. Rivas’ effort last year to support the Anderson Dam Project, AB 3005, was passed as an urgency bill out of the Legislature with bipartisan votes in both the Assembly and Senate. Governor Gavin Newsom returned AB 3005 to the Legislature without his signature, however, and AB 271 addresses the Governor’s concerns by removing the provisions of AB 3005 relating to streamlining of certain State permitting processes.