Let It Flow: Lexington Reservoir Gushes Again

Upgrades make reservoir "safer"

By Damian Trujillo
|  Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009  |  Updated 5:11 PM PDT
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Ghastly Halloween Drinks

Damian Trujillo

People look on at the dam at the Lexington Reservoir near Los Gatos, Calif.

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There was a rare sight at Lexington Reservoir near Los Gatos Tuesday.  Engineers were actually releasing water.

They've been repairing the reservoir's outlet, at Lenihan Dam, for about two years. That forced officials with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to limit the capacity at the reservoir. In fact, they drained it recently, to complete the repairs. Those repairs are now done.

"This is a big deal because water is a high priority," said Sig Sanchez, the board chair of the Water District

Before, there was a pipe in place that ran under Lenihan Dam, that served as the water outlet.That pipe suffered a partial collapse in 1989, and buckling continued until a couple years ago.

Engineers say that made the dam unsafe, and it limited how much water they could capture in the reservoir. Not any more.

"What it means is we'll be able to collect as much water as the water shed develops, and be able to manage it better than in the past," said Sanchez.

Now, a quarter-mile pipe runs inside a tunnel, capable of carrying more than 3,000 gallons of water per second. NBC Bay Area News got  a private tour of the tunnel.

"This system is a lot safer than the old system. It's 50 years newer," said Shawna Vonstockhausen, one of the lead engineers on the project.

Lexington reservoir feeds the Los Gatos Creek, and adjoining tributaries.

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