Federal officials have ordered the closure and drainage of the Anderson Reservoir, the main reservoir supplying water to Silicon Valley, because of engineers’ concern that the structure would be unstable in an earthquake and subject to “catastrophic” collapse.
Local officials disagree, saying the reservoir has already been drained to adequate levels and that draining it entirely would make things worse.
The San Francisco Chronicle Chronicle reported Monday:
Federal water officials have ordered Silicon Valley’s chief water supplier to start draining its largest reservoir by Oct. 1 because a major earthquake could collapse the dam and send floodwaters into communities from Monterey Bay to the southern shore of San Francisco Bay.
But Valley Water, the agency that manages the Anderson Dam and Reservoir, says it has already lowered the reservoir’s water below the level initially sought by federal officials — and that the total drainage the federal government now demands would actually make the dam more vulnerable to earthquake damage, while also reducing water supplies and causing environmental harm.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency demanding the closure, has the power to overrule local water authorities.
The Anderson Reservoir stores more than half of the water needs for the area that includes Silicon Valley. Its drainage would complicate efforts by environmentalists to convince locals to make do with less water from the San Joaquin River valley.
In 2018, elected officials in the Silicon Valley hub of Palo Alto voted in favor of the Bay-Delta plan/a>, which sought to increase flow levels in the San Joaquin river system, at the expense of reservoirs. The vote came over the objections of the city’s own utilities department.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has adopted for a more cautious approach, involving voluntary agreements by local water agencies to mitigate the impacts of their water use on local fish populations.
Environmentalists prefer the Bay-Delta Plan’s more aggressive approach. But with far less water available to Silicon Valley, they may find their proposals to be a tougher sell, even to locals otherwise inclined to agree.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.