Environment

Stop Pacheco Dam Coalition Reveals Alarming Economic and Environmental Consequences of the New Pacheco Dam Project

San Jose, California – (work wire) – The Pacheco Dam Endowment Coalition has won the support of taxpayers and environmental groups in their efforts to expose the economic and environmental realities of the new Pacheco Dam project being considered by the California Water Commission on December 15.

The next meeting will review the feasibility of the project for the purpose of obtaining WSIP Proposal 1 funding. The coalition advocates for the protection of statewide taxpayers and Santa Clara County taxpayers, along with protecting the environment and working farms. The Alliance believes that the new Pacheco Dam will pose a very significant financial risk, without solving the water challenges we face.

Dam supporter, Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water), admitted that this project would not guarantee water storage during longer droughts or provide a reliable water supply. In addition to being unable to provide supplies in times of drought, a new dam in the rural southeast corner of Santa Clara County would be harmful to the environment and not meet the public benefit funding requirements under Proposition 1.

Since the initial WSIP implementation of 2017, the cost of the Pacheco Dam has more than doubled, with the current cost estimated at $2.12 billion. The project’s steadily increasing costs and the benefits of minimal water supply raise significant concerns in terms of economic repercussions for already burdened taxpayers. Already, the total cost of living for San Jose residents is estimated to be 215% higher than the US average. The state Water Resources Control Authority recently found that local water prices were among the most unaffordable in the state. Prices are expected to rise significantly due to the costs of the Pacheco project. Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Ph.D. in economics, explained that funding this dam would triple Valley Water’s debt. “There are much less costly water storage and conservation projects that should be prioritized instead.”

In his recent report to the California Water Commission, Dr. Michael explained that Valley Water’s WSIP application for the Pacheco Dam did not follow established criteria for evaluating public benefits and that the ecosystem benefits claimed by Valley Water are unjustified. “When the costs of building the dam doubled, Valley Water claims that the dam’s purported environmental benefits doubled as well. It is absurd and wrong.” Overall, Dr. Michael found that project benefits were likely to be exaggerated by a factor of 7 or more, removing the justification for financing Country for WSIP.

While the new dam’s ecosystem benefits are uncertain, the environmental costs from “the inundation of the approximately 1,500 acres of land that support sensitive natural communities and many species with special status are huge,” as independent biological resource advisor Scott Kashin, MS explained.

The grounds submerged in the new dam footprint announced earlier this year include a portion of Henry Coe State Park as well as the Romero Ranch Nature Conservancy. In addition, new roads, transmission line and pipeline will eliminate, fragment and degrade a large amount of habitat outside the inundation area.

The Pacheco Dam project simply does not meet the feasibility criteria and must be removed from the list of options for projects available for bid money 1. The Pacheco Dam Endowment Coalition encourages those who oppose proposed state funding 1 for the Pacheco Dam to submit comments to the California Water Commission before December 15.

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