Bill to Assist Timely, Expert Completion of Anderson Dam Project in Santa Clara County Heads to Governor’s Desk

AB 271 Passes Out of Senate with Unanimous Support

For immediate release:
Asm. Robert Rivas pictured on a neighborhood street smiling wearing a blue button up and a dark grey, textured blazer.

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) to protect Silicon Valley and Assembly District 30 from dam failure passed off the Senate Floor this afternoon with a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 39-0. Assembly Bill 271 will assist the earthquake retrofitting and replacement 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.

“Given the seriousness and complexity of the Anderson Dam Project, Valley Water must have the ability to pick the best firm to construct this project, not the cheapest. I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for passing this bill, which will ensure we can address the dam’s much-needed retrofitting and mitigate the potential for future flooding,” Asm. Rivas said. 

Specifically, the “best value” contracting provisions in AB 271 authorize Valley Water to select the most experienced construction contractors for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. Currently, Valley Water is required to select the contractors offering the lowest bid, regardless of which contractor is offering the best combination of price, quality, safety, and experience.


“The seismic retrofit of Anderson Dam to protect people and ultimately provide a safe, reliable water supply is overdue,” said Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), a principal co-author of the bill. “AB 271 will help ensure the most up-to-date science and construction methods are used to provide long-term peace-of-mind for the hundreds of thousands of people living downstream from Anderson Dam.”

Built in 1950 to the safety standards of the day, Anderson Dam is perched above Silicon 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.


Other coauthors of the legislation are Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), and AB 271 has garnered broad bipartisan 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 Newsom returned AB 3005 to the Legislature without his signature, however, and AB 271 addresses the Governor’s concerns by omitting the provisions of AB 3005 relating to streamlining of certain state permitting processes.


AB 217 now heads to the desk of Governor Newsom, who has 12 days to sign, approve without signing, or veto the bill.


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Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) 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.