State expected to release bond money for major Bay Area water projects

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- The state water commission is expected to release $1 billion in bond money on Tuesday to finance two major Bay Area water projects, one involving a new dam and the other a larger dam.

The new dam will be built in southern Santa Clara County; the raised dam will be at Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County.

Eleven reservoirs currently provide water storage for nearly two million South Bay customers. The California Water Commission will be providing about half of the projected $1 billion cost to build a new dam and to expand a small reservoir along Highway 152, east of Gilroy.

The new Pacheco Reservoir will hold enough water to supply 650,000 people for a year. It's part of the largest expansion of water facilities across the state in 58 years, after taxpayers approved Proposition 1 four years ago during the drought. $2.5 billion in projects are expected to get funding for four dams and four underground water facilities across California.

"We're talking about surface water storage, groundwater storage, other projects we expect to be funded throughout the state, so it's very good news for all of California," said Marty Grimes, spokesperson for the Valley Water District.

While the newly expanded Pacheco Reservoir will be an important resource, the Water District's also looking at its recharge ponds, underground storage facilities as well as conservation as important to meeting the needs of a fast-growing Silicon Valley.

Even though mandatory conservation ended last year, consumers in Santa Clara County continue to conserve water... at a rate of 22 percent so far this year, compared to what was used in 2013. Reservoir levels are at 73 percent of their 20-year average.

"We just need to continue to make conservation a way of life and continue to look for opportunities to be more efficient, whether it be inside your home and taking shorter showers or in your outdoors and replacing your turf with low water use plants," said Jerry de la Piedra, manager of water supply and conservation at Valley Water District.

The water district expects work on the new dam and reservoir to start in six years with completion in 2029.
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