Bill to Assist Timely, Expert Completion of Anderson Dam Project in Santa Clara County Passes Off Assembly Floor

Building on Assemblymember Rivas’ efforts last year, AB 271 authorizes Valley Water to hire the best, most skilled contractors to move critical project forward

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) to protect Silicon Valley and Assembly District 30 from dam failure and destruction passed off the Assembly Floor this afternoon with a bipartisan vote of 71-0 and is now headed to the Senate. Assembly Bill 271 will assist the earthquake retrofitting and replacement of Anderson Dam located in Morgan Hill. With Anderson Dam having been deemed an “unacceptably high” seismic risk by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it is critical that this project be completed in a timely, safe, and expert way—and AB 271 helps ensure that will happen.

“Given the seriousness and the complexity of the Anderson Dam Project, I’m grateful that my colleagues in the Assembly passed AB 271, which will help ensure our region is protected from potentially devastating flooding,” Asm. Rivas said. “As it stands today, Anderson Dam is over 70 years old and was built before engineers knew about the two nearby fault lines, including one directly under the dam. Valley Water must have the ability to pick the best team to construct this project and is not forced simply to pick the cheapest option.”

Specifically, the “best value” contracting provisions in AB 271 authorize Valley Water to select the most skilled and trained construction contractors for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. Currently, Valley Water is required to select the contractors offering the lowest bid, regardless of which contractor is offering the best combination of price, quality, safety, and experience.

“I thank Assemblymember Rivas for leading this bill to improve the contracting method for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project,” said U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), who has been leading quarterly meetings on the Anderson Dam Project at the federal level. “For the sake of all residents and businesses, we must ensure that the most qualified contractors are entrusted with this top priority construction project to prevent future damage, disruption, and loss of lives.”

Built in 1950 to the safety standards of the day, Anderson Dam is perched above the Santa Clara Valley, home to nearly 2 million people and the center of California’s technology economy. Experts estimate that a magnitude 7.25 earthquake on the Calaveras Fault centered less than 1.25 miles from the dam, or a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on the Coyote Creek Fault centered beneath the dam, could significantly damage the dam embankment and lead to dam failure and the uncontrolled release of water.

Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) is the principal coauthor of AB 271. Coauthors of the legislation are Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), and AB 271 has garnered broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. Asm. Rivas’ effort last year to support the Anderson Dam Project, AB 3005, was passed as an urgency bill out of the Legislature with near unanimous votes in both the Assembly and Senate. However, Governor Gavin Newsom returned AB 3005 to the Legislature without his signature. AB 271 addresses the Governor’s concerns by removing the provisions