Hsueh: Preparing our water supply in the face of climate change
The Santa Clara Valley Water District is the region’s largest water supplier. File photo.

One of Valley Water’s missions is to provide Santa Clara County with a reliable water supply.

Analysis shows if our county relies only on existing water supply and infrastructure, we will face water shortages during future multi-year droughts. To avoid that, and ensure a reliable water supply in the future, we must make additional investments now.

Valley Water identifies and plans for new investments through its Water Supply Master Plan. We update the plan every five years to assess how much water we’ll need in the future and what projects are needed to meet that demand.

We are updating the plan now. As part of the process, we are evaluating 18 water supply and infrastructure projects. These include purified water, storage projects, groundwater recharge and pipelines. Valley Water staff will make recommendations on which projects to invest in based on this evaluation.

Our agency continues to prioritize the implementation of water conservation, purified water and stormwater capture. However, the master plan analysis indicates those efforts alone are not enough to make up for future water shortages. We need to invest in additional water storage projects to capture excess water in wet years that can be used during droughts.

As part of the master plan’s development, we are evaluating five potential water storage projects, including the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project. Located in south Santa Clara County, this proposed project would increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet. That’s enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for a year.

Given the significance of the investment and complexity of the Pacheco project, Valley Water is gathering the necessary data and facts and conducting a comprehensive analysis. This is a standard practice when making decisions for large infrastructure projects.

In addition to the Pacheco project, Valley Water is partnering with other water agencies to investigate storage and supply opportunities statewide, such as the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion, B.F. Sisk Dam Raise, Sites Reservoir and Delta Conveyance Project. We are studying the benefits and feasibility of these opportunities through the master plan.

My fellow board members and I are committed to making informed decisions about whether to build the Pacheco project or implement any of the other projects within the master plan. Findings from the studies, along with the evaluation of how each project compares with other options, will help guide our decisions.

It’s important to note our agency has not yet committed to complete any of the projects being evaluated in the Water Supply Master Plan update. Our agency will make those decisions after the board receives and deliberates on the information from the project studies and the master plan recommendations.

Our board is receiving regular updates on the Pacheco project and others being evaluated through the master plan process. These board updates are also intended to provide more opportunities for community engagement.

Public engagement and participation are crucial to our planning process. To learn more about the plan, process and opportunity for public input, please visit our website at valleywater.org/your-water/water-supply-planning/water-supply-master-plan.

Nai Hsueh is chair of the Valley Water board of directors and represents District 5. She can be reached at [email protected].

Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

Leave a Reply