Drought: Largest Active Santa Clara Reservoir at 39% Capacity

The largest active reservoir in the Santa Clara Valley was only at 39% capacity Tuesday, and the water agency doesn’t expect things to improve for several years.

The water level at Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, is expected to stay low, even if there’s an abnormally high rainy season. Lexington currently is the largest reservoir in the valley with Anderson Reservoir offline for a years-long seismic retrofit.

The other reservoirs in the county aren’t doing much better, with Guadalupe Reservoir at a startlingly low 18%, and the future doesn’t look so bright for that one either.

“I’d say for the next decade, how you see the reservoirs now is how it’s going to be in the future,” said Chris Hakes, dam safety expert at the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Hakes updated the agency’s board on the progress of the retrofit project at Anderson in Morgan Hill. It’ll be another decade before that one is back up and running again. So, in the meantime, the agency has to get creative to ensure the valley’s water supply is intact — even during the current drought emergency.

“Well of course we’re concerned about that. We do look at the water supply sources that we currently have,” said John Varela, Valley Water board chair. “We do import much of our water from the Sierra, to the delta. Pumps up to San Luis Reservoir, down into the valley.”

When engineers were designing the Lexington retrofit years ago, they had to do it with not only floods in mind, but also droughts. So they added what they dubbed the “cross valley pipeline.” Now they’re extending it to help recharge the groundwater going into Coyote Creek and surrounding percolation ponds.

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