The Pacheco Dam Project is Expensive and High Risk


The proposed Pacheco Dam Project is expected to cost an astronomical $2.5 BILLION or more. Local ratepayers would bear most of that cost. Other than the Delta Tunnel, it’s the most expensive project currently being considered by Valley Water. In addition, while Valley Water is assuming that it can locate project partners to share in at least 20 percent of the cost, those project partners have not yet materialized; local ratepayers and statewide taxpayers will ultimately be responsible for project costs.

Environmentally destructive

The proposed dam would inundate over 1,500 acres of land, including a portion of the North Fork Pacheco Creek within Henry Coe State Park, in order to create a reservoir roughly 25 times as large as the existing reservoir.  The area that would be flooded includes hundreds of acres of Sycamore alluvial woodland, a sensitive biotic community, along with over one thousand acres of oak woodlands,. The project would also displace rare and protected plant and animal species endemic to the region. Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta Chapter and other environmental groups have expressed concern about this loss of increasingly rare habitat.

Disturbance to Culturally Significant Sites

The proposed dam inundation area is also rich in cultural resources. The area includes Native American sites over 3,000 years old, where generations lived, died and now rest in peace. Significant cultural resources continue to be identified in investigations concerning the dam. These items have been repatriated to Amah Mutsun tribal band representatives, and then reburied. Disturbing these
 irreplaceable cultural resources shows a lack of respect for California’s tribes and would foreclose future archeological research.

It's Risky

Compared to other water projects, the Pacheco Reservoir expansion project stands out as having much higher costs and implementation risks than any other water projects that Valley Water is considering.

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The Pacheco Dam project is a boondoggle in the making. Kill it now before ratepayers get stuck with a project that won’t help the region fight off the long-term drought.

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Protect taxpayers and the environment

In addition to the financial burden of building a $2.5 billion dollar dam on ratepayers and taxpayers, the construction of this project would permanently destroy the local environment—driving out wildlife and causing irreparable damage to biologically, historically, and culturally significant lands.

The North Fork Pacheco Creek sits near the site of a planned $800 million reservoir in the hills of Eastern Santa Clara County near Hollister, Calif., on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The reservoir would hold 130,000 acre-feet of water, making it the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)
Gary Reyes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About our coalition

Our coalition aims to protect Santa Clara County’s ratepayers and the environment, as well as working ranchlands, from this wasteful and high-risk project. Our coalition includes environmental groups, community groups, open space and park advocates, along with concerned landowners, ratepayers and taxpayers.

Lower cost and less environmentally damaging alternatives to the Pacheco Reservoir expansion have been identified that would meet the district’s goals for reliability and cost-effectiveness. Valley Water should consider the benefits of additional conservation, water recycling, groundwater banking and other alternatives before proceeding any further with the Pacheco Dam project.

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Good news!

Keep Pacheco Wild/No New Dam t-shirts (and other items) are available to order!