South Bay officials says local dams are safe

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Three of the 10 reservoirs in Santa Clara County are spilling, but experts with local water district are confident what is happening in Oroville won't happen here.

Three of the 10 reservoirs in Santa Clara County are spilling, but experts with local water district are confident what is happening in Oroville won't happen here.

What is happening in Oroville is unprecedented, and even shocking to some experts.

"Something like this was uncanny," says Hemang Desai, a manager for the engineering unit for dam safety at the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

"We have never had this kind of problem here before because we maintain our spillways well and inspect them on a regular basis, and they are designed fairly well," he says.

RELATED: Oroville Dam emergency spillway expected to fail

Lexington Reservoir is one of three above capacity right now in Santa Clara County with water spilling over.

We haven't seen this in a while because of the massive drought, but it's not as rare as you think.

"Our dams spill very often. For example, Anderson has spilled at least 10 times over the last 70 years," explained Desai.
RELATED: Prepare NorCal emergency resources

But size does matter. Lake Oroville is the second largest reservoir in California and with a capacity of more than 3,537,000 acre feet.



It dwarfs all ten of the reservoirs in Santa Clara County, with a capacity of just more than 169,000 acre feet.

Santa Clara Valley Water District receives water from Lake Oroville as a contractor with the state water project.

ABC7 News media partner, The San Jose Mercury News reports, that 12 years ago, during the re-licensing process, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, along with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the state's Department of Water Resources, contended that the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway did not need to be armored with concrete.
RELATED: Report: Officials ignored Oroville spillway concerns 12 years ago

Those agencies would have had to pay for the upgrades.

At that time, three environmentalist groups said if it was left alone as an earthen hillside it could lead to a failure.

"I haven't been able to look back this morning to see if at that time about 10-12 years ago what our district perspective was at that time," says Marty Grimes with Santa Clara Valley.

Releases are being done at all ten Santa Clara County reservoirs in preparation for more rain later this week.

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