“The bureaucracies at the state and local levels don’t take action to address water needs.”

Anderson Reservoir is now virtually empty, with only 3 percent of capacity water, so the dam can be replaced because of earthquake risk. Morgan Hill Life file photo

By Joe Alderese

Joe Alderese

We may be without water next year.

A few weeks ago, the Morgan Hill Real Estate Broker’s meeting hosted a guest speaker from Valley Water, our county’s water provider. The themes of his presentation were current drought conditions, water supplies, Anderson Reservoir, and efforts to conserve water and increase the water supply.

One positive that came out of the presentation are plans to increase the capacity of Pacheco Reservoir. It’s not a major portion of our supply, but it would be an increase.

At the end of the presentation, there were several questions and comments. Most of them focused on how the water shortage situation became so dire and why there is a lack of action by bureaucrats and politicians to ensure adequate supply of water.

A couple questions centered on the Anderson Dam retrofit taking too many years to come into fruition. The reply was that changing earthquake standards kept delaying the retrofit. Having the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County drained nearly dry during this drought is inexcusable. Anderson Dam should have been repaired many years ago. This is the same tired story for all our reservoirs which should have been expanded or created during the past few decades. State officials have not made water a priority.

The bureaucracies at the state and local levels don’t take action to address water needs. Past bond issues for billions of dollars to increase the water supply have not produced more water.

There will be more restrictions and regulations but not more water in our future. And here is the apocalyptic prediction made in the meeting: If the 2021-2022 winter doesn’t produce normal rainfall, the wells in southern Santa Clara County may run dry. Many of us could be without water.

It is not OK to be without water. It’s unclear who would be without water, but country homes and farms would probably be first to go dry. We need to mobilize to tell the bureaucrats and politicians this is not acceptable.

Leaving residents and farms without water is not acceptable. This problem has been staring us in the face for decades, and little action has been taken. Regulations and lack of leadership are excuses, not good reasons for delays. Looking at this at the state level, if there is no water left for farming, then the No. 1 economic industry will shut down, and the state’s economy will be decimated. Millions will have no work — not to mention food shortages.

Property owners without water means life will become impossible, and property values will plummet. Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy could become blighted communities.

We must act now! Our representatives and water czars must hear from us. Valley Water must hear from us. Otherwise, there will be no accountability, and no solutions to this dangerous issue.

Supervisor Mike Wasserman, representing South Valley, recently added Santa Clara County to the state list as an official drought county to get state consideration for more water resources. This is not a guarantee for water.

Concerning Anderson Dam, federal and state agencies are inhibiting progress with environmental and other regulations. In other words, if this project follows normal processes, we may never see a dam retrofit. Again, this is where we need to stand up and tell these public officials that the “old” way is not acceptable any more.  We want progress now!

Joe Alderese is a real estate agent in southern Santa Clara County. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.


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