earthquake safety

Anderson Reservoir Off Limits Due to $576 Million Seismic Retrofit Project

Officials said 56 million gallons of water a day will be drained from the reservoir.

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The South Bay's largest reservoir is about to undergo its biggest change ever in hopes of making everyone around it a lot safer during a major earthquake.

But before anything else, crews have the massive undertaking of emptying out the Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill.

A recent flurry of small temblors in the South Bay seem to drive home the importance of the project to several residents. Quake safety for the reservoir has been a concern for a long time and it is going to take even longer to fix.

Officials said 56 million gallons of water a day will be drained from the Anderson Reservoir. It will take months to empty since the reservoir's capacity is more than the other area reservoirs combined.

Most of the water will pour into underground aquifers, or water treatment plants, with stored and imported water. The Santa Clara Valley Water District said the local drinking supply should be fine.

But what will stop when the $576 million seismic retrofit project begins on Thursday is any recreational activity at the reservoir, such as fishing.

"There's not a lot of places around here, so losing a good quality spots like Anderson really kind of puts the damper on our opportunities," said Patrick Enriquez, a fisherman from Gilroy.

Morgan Hill residents Gerald and Helen McLean love to jet ski on the reservoir and said they understand the importance of the project, but are dismayed about a completion date of 2030.

"Because we're getting older and if they take 10 years, we'll probably never be on that lake again," Gerald McLean said.

Helen McLean added the project needs to be done.

"If we ever have a major earthquake, we want to be safe," she said.

Park rangers said there is still plenty to do along Coyote Creek, but the reservoir even after it is drained is off limits.

"We don't want people going in here," Santa Clara County Park Ranger Marissa Rodriguez said of the reservoir area. "It's still a construction zone. It can be very dangerous, so we will be patrolling the area actively as our usual duties."

The water district said it has been adding in the cost of the project to water rates since 2012, so customers should not see a big jump in their water bills even after the project gets going.

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