Santa Clara Co. officials release water from Anderson Reservoir as preventative measure

Recent rainfall has led the managers at the Santa Clara Valley Water District to release water from Anderson Reservoir. 

The release valve at the bottom of Anderson is shooting water downstream at the rate of 156,000 gallons per minute. It’s a preventive measure not taken since the record rainfall winter of 2017. But now, the body of water above sits at 35.5 percent of capacity.

“It’s a seismically deficient dam. So for safety, we need to try to keep that dam to 58-percent or lower. So in order to avoid getting to that 58-percent, we start releasing now,” said Marty Grimes of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

He says recent storms have left area reservoirs at or above normal levels. In addition to Anderson, releases are also planned for Almaden and Guadaloupe in South San Jose, Chesbro in Morgan Hill, Steven’s Creek in Cupertino and Coyote Reservoir in San Martin.

“This is what we normally get. We get rain in winter. We don’t get rain in summer. So we want rain in winter,” said Dr. Alison Bridger.

Bridger is the chairwoman of the San Jose State University Meteorology Department. She says the extremes of drought and deluge the past few winters have given way to a more normal weather pattern. Computer models show a series of storms shaping up to over the next 10 days or so, which should keep the Bay Area on track to reach is average rainfall of about 15-inches. Currently, the area has seen more than eight inches.

“December, January, and February are the big months to get this. For all I know, we’re not looking as far as March yet. But March could be as dry as a bone, and then we’ll start complaining,” said Bridger.

Water district officials say the snow pack level is above 100 percent and reservoirs water levels are rising. So with more storms bearing down on the Bay Area, releasing water now reduces the risk of the type of destructive flooding seen in 2017.

“Nature does what nature does and we can’t guarantee that. But the odds are much less that we would reach that capacity this year,” said Grimes.

Forecaster say their forecast models show the remainder of February will be a wet month, with moderate rainfall spread over several days. As opposed to downpours which can lead to flooding.