MORGAN HILL (KPIX 5) – The Santa Clara Valley Water District is about to start work on one of its biggest construction project in decades: the rebuilding of Anderson Dam east of Morgan Hill.
"You know, this is the first time we've had to tear down a dam," said Board of Directors member John Varela.
Morgan Hill had less than 2,000 residents when Anderson Dam was built in 1950.
Today, it has almost 50,000, with many living in expensive new neighborhoods build at base of the dam, where dam rebuilding impacts will hit the hardest including truck traffic, dust and noise.
"We're a community that's been building a lot of residential areas for a long time, so we're almost used to having a lot of dump trucks in the area," said Mike Kriegbaum, who lives in the neighborhood.
Kriegbaum acknowledges the temporary impacts will be worth the benefits: long-term seismic stability of the dam, flood control and water storage.
"It's more important to me that they are taking care of the dam than anything," he told KPIX 5.
The water district said construction on the first phase of the project, building a new, larger outlet tunnel, could begin as early as next month.
And they want Anderson's neighbors, thousands of homeowners in the Cochrane Road area to know what they'll be dealing with.
"They will definitely see the ten wheelers, those hauling vehicles that you would typically see at a construction site, some earth movers, bulldozers, a lot of it will tunneling equipment," said Christopher Hakes, Valley Water's Deputy Director.
Water district officials said the project will take up to ten years and will also include a new top spillway.
But biggest part of the job will be to take down the dam's embankment and rebuild it back up to withstand a large earthquake.
"This is actually the largest of our groundwater reservoirs. The other nine of our reservoirs can fit within the footprint of Anderson. So, restoring it is key for our water supply future," Hakes said.
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