DISCUSSION — ANDERSON DAM

6/4/2021 Topic: DISCUSSION 1 — ANDERSON DAM

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The Federal Government recently ordered Anderson Dam drained and closed due to instability
in the structure that could cause the dam to break and flood a good portion of the South Bay.
The dam has not been without controversy regarding its environmental impact. Rather than
just fixing the infrastructure of the dam, how can we take advantage of the moment and try to
reduce the impact on the environment while maintaining a valuable water source needed by
Bay Area residents? Or, should it be closed completely?

More detailed information can be found at the Valley Water website:
https://www.valleywaternews.org (https://www.valleywaternews.org)

Submit your response (in APA format for any references used) – 15pts.

Reply to two (2) other posted responses for full points – 5pts. + 5pts. for each reply.

Total possible points = 25

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(https:// Enrique Martinez (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4439431)
Yesterday

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It appears that the dam is being retrofitted and as of April, a state bill gave authority to
Valley Water to select their contractor for the seismic modernization of the dam. I believe
this is the better environmental choice since an entire new damn isn’t being created and
those natural resources reaped from the Earth and manipulated with equipment that
release large amounts of pollution in the process. If the dam was shut down, another would
have to be built in its place. All of the necessary tools required to build a structure of that
scale would emit large amounts of pollution in the environment. This option to retrofit the
dam is the best for Bay Area residents in terms of water availability and air quality.

https://www.valleywaternews.org/

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(http Nancy Torres (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474057)
Yesterday

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Enrique I’m glad you addressed the fact that if we had to build a new dam, it would
cause a larger impact to the community and environment. I also believe that the idea
of closing the dam and building a new one would take a large toll on the communities
pockets and time. I would impact residents in the area a lot longer than the 10years
that is expected the retrofitting might take place.

(http Xinyuan Zhou (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4371290)
1:52pm

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I quite agree with you, although people may face danger during the maintenance
period of the dam, the damage caused by the closure of the dam is obviously greater.

(http Dang Minh Nhu Nguyen (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4487496)
2:23pm

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I agree with you on the thought of building another new dam might cause greater impact on the

environment, if not also the economy. Though there are potential risks that the Anderson dam might

collapse which can cause several other damages, it is a better way to renew it.

(https:// Alexander Hoang (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4432924)
Yesterday

DISCUSSION 1 — ANDERSON DAM

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, in charge of the Anderson dam, has been continually
taking measures to improve the infrastructure of the dam while reducing its environmental
impacts. There have been efforts by biologist to save wildlife such as rescuing and
relocating 70 federally threatened Central California Coast Steelhead (Valley Water News,
2020) but the main priority of Valley Water is to strengthen the dam to be earthquake safe.
In addition to saving the fish, Valley Water has also planned to construct a large outlet
tunnel to allow better water level management (Valley Water News, 2021). Previously, the
law was that Valley Water must select a contractor with the lowest bid, but now a bill was

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introduced to allow more flexibility in selecting a contractor based on qualifications as well.
(Valley Water News, 2021). This can in turn allow Valley Water to choose a pricier but more
environmentally friendly option for the project. All these steps that Valley Water has been
taking are a relief. I hope they will continue to innovate to reduce impact on the
environment while keeping the welfare of the people as the main priority.

References

Valley Water News. (2020, September 1). Valley Water rescues, relocates threatened
steelhead in Coyote Creek ahead of Anderson Reservoir drawdown. Valley Water
News. https://valleywaternews.org/2020/09/01/valley-water-to-rescue-relocate-
threatened-steelhead-in-coyote-creek-ahead-of-anderson-reservoir-drawdown/.

Valley Water News. (2021, April 23). State bill would allow Valley Water to select “best
value” contractor for project to strengthen Anderson Dam. Valley Water News.
https://valleywaternews.org/2021/04/23/state-bill-would-allow-valley-water-to-select-
best-value-contractor-for-project-to-strengthen-anderson-dam/.

(http Nancy Torres (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474057)
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I wasn’t completely aware of the efforts the valley water district took to reduce it’s
environmental impact, are there other organizations helping with the efforts?

(http Alexander Hoang (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4432924)
Yesterday

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That’s a very good question. I also wonder if there are organizations making an
active effort in the dam’s environmental impacts or if its solely up to the water
district’s actions.

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(https:// Nancy Torres (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474057)
Yesterday

Discussion Question 1: Anderson Dam

By: Nancy Torres

Department of Engineering, San Jose State University of California

ENGR100W: Writing Workshop for Engineering Students

Professor Christopher W. Bankston

June 5th, 2021

Discussion 1: Anderson Dam

The Federal Government recently ordered Anderson Dam drained and closed due to
instability in the structure that could cause the dam to break and flood a good portion of the
South Bay. The dam has not been without controversy regarding its environmental impact.

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6/4/2021 Topic: DISCUSSION 1 — ANDERSON DAM

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Discussion Question 1-Anderson Dam.pdf (https://sjsu.instructure.com/files/63809673/download?

download_frd=1&verifier=6CMtexdzhF2hLJzLYkwJVjrt7BFHyeA8jYInxEmt)

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Rather than just fixing the infrastructure of the dam, how can we take advantage of the
moment and try to reduce the impact on the environment while maintaining a valuable
water source needed by Bay Area residents? Or, should it be closed completely?

Anderson Dam started to lower its water levels as of February of 2020 and is currently at its
lowest level which as of October 1 is only at 3% capacity (Hakes, 05/2021). The water
within this reserve was distributed appropriately to not affect the environment, to not affect
the dam’s infrastructure, and to comply with federal authorities. To take advantage of the
moment we should make sure that there aren’t any other infrastructure complications
before retrofitting. As an example, they should look at the composition of the soil, they
should look at the dams drain outlets or outlet pipe and the possibility of needing more than
one water spillway. To reduce the environmental impact, we could take advantage of the
fact that there won’t be a lot of water running though Coyote creek in the summer. Coyote
Creek is the natural river on which the water gets spilled to and as a natural river that was
not man made has been affected by homeless near San Jose. This has affected the area of
San Jose when we have lots of precipitation the creek overflows and we have had flooding.
The Anderson Dam is at low level which means the river will be lower during the summer
but higher during winter, we could take advantage of removing left over debris and looking
for better housing for those how are homeless and perhaps revitalizing the natural habitat
of this creek. I don’t believe the dam should be closed because we have changed the
surroundings near and around the dam and creek. Even though the Dam doesn’t provide a
large percentage of water to the area the water the dam can hold is a valuable source that
shouldn’t be taken for granted and we need the dam to keep proving water to the
community and the creeks that have now become accustomed to being controlled by the
Anderson Dam.

st

(http Alexander Hoang (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4432924)
Yesterday

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Your connection between the homeless situation and water pollution is very insightful. I
did not think of how the rate of homeless living near these rivers can contribute to
water pollution. Cleaning up the streets and finding housing for these people are
always positive too.

(http Xinyuan Zhou (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4371290)
1:56pm

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Yes, we have changed the ecology around the dam and the stream, and if the dam is
closed, all the life in the ecosystem will be affected, and that is something we don’t
want to see.

(http Dang Minh Nhu Nguyen (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4487496)
2:31pm

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I agree with you that we should do retrofitting after finding out all the cracks in the infrastructure.

This is a great way to reduce not only the possible risks that might happen, but also the money that

we are going to spend during the process. I also love how you connect your examples together

which gives the audience a larger sight on the problem.

(https:// Nono Li (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4407359)
5:51am

We should consider about long term condition of the Anderson Dam. People are still the
water from Anderson Dam so it is hard to stop using the dam before we found any
substitution. To use the dam in a lower capacity would lower the risk until the new dam is
fully built and tested.

According to SFGATE, the earthquake would damage the dam, once Anderson Dam is
damaged, it would flood the area from San Francisco Bay to Montery, including most part
of the Sillicon Valley. If there is a earthquake stronger than magnitude 7.2 happen near the
dam, the dam will be broken. “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state
Division Safety of Dams have ordered a complete drawdown by Oct. 1, 2020.” (“Amy Graff”
2020)

According to Santa Clara Valley Water News, they are building a larger outlet tunnel to
control the water in dam better, and it will take two to three years. After the tunnel is
structured, Valley Water plans to strat rebuild Anderson Dam to meet the anti-seismic
requirement in 2024, and the consruction may last six years. “Valley Water is planning to
begin the process of selecting a contractor for the dam retrofit in 2023.”(“STATE BILL
WOULD ALLOW VALLEY WATER TO SELECT “BEST VALUE” CONTRACTOR FOR
PROJECT TO STRENGTHEN ANDERSON DAM,” 2021)

Reference

Graff, A. (2020, February 25). Feds say largest reservoir in Silicon Valley must be drained,
citing earthquake risk. SFGATE. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Anderson-Dam-

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Reservoir-drained-earthquake-15082619.php.

Valley Water News. (2021, April 23). State bill would allow Valley Water to select “best
value” contractor for project to strengthen Anderson Dam. Valley Water News.
https://valleywaternews.org/2021/04/23/state-bill-would-allow-valley-water-to-select-best-
value-contractor-for-project-to-strengthen-anderson-dam/.

(https:// Xinyuan Zhou (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4371290)
1:44pm

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I think the Anderson Reservoir cannot be completely closed, fixing its infrastructure is a
better solution, which Valley Water is doing it now. Let’s imagine the possible effects of
closing the dam completely, first of all, it will affect the ecological environment of the
downstream. Wild animals become difficult to survive, resulting in changes in the ecological
structure of the downstream. Secondly, the weather in California is very dry. If there is a
drought in such weather, it will affect all living things including human beings. The water in
the Anderson Reservoir can save the situation. As residents of the Bay Area, in order to
preserve water without affecting the environment. The best thing we can do as a resident of
the Bay Area is to save water and at the same time be prepared for disasters that could
happen at any time. We can also plant trees downstream of the dam because the trees can
protect against flooding to some extent. The process of repairing the dam will take ten
years. The government may be able to increase the budget to shorten the construction
period and protect people’s safety.

(http Jimmy Phan (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474356)
3:58pm

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Hi Xinyuan,

I fully agree with your ideas of not taking out the dam. If we don’t look at the outcomes
of taking out the dam it will lead to more environmental impact than the dam fully
functioning. So, too my understanding fixing the old dam and adding new technology in
order to improve the dam was the best solution I had. The idea I had was hydropower
which are usually built within dams which will allow the dam to work more efficiently
after being fixed.

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(https:// Dang Minh Nhu Nguyen (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4487496)
1:59pm

Edited by Dang Minh Nhu Nguyen (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4487496) on Jun 4 at 2:16pm

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Discussion 1: Anderson Dam

It is reasonable that the Federal Government ordered Anderson Dam drained because of safety
reason(s). However, it is not a very good idea to close the dam completely. Since Valley Water had
“completed a project that will provide flood protection to those homes and businesses,” (Kremen,
2021, para. 2) it is not necessary to shut the dam down. We can use this moment to create an
illustration of the Anderson dam using technology to demonstrates the potential risks, also, to
mention educating the workers and the residents about the targets of building and maintaining a
good dam, as they may come up with intelligent and or important questions/points. We now have the
problem drew out, we have multiple supporting ideas, one thing might fill up another. Therefore, we
can try to build up another dam using what is left from Anderson. If we go with the direction, the
Anderson dam is drained which means the percentage of flooding in the South Bay area is low, if not
none; it is also renewed, indicates the dam can continue maintaining the water source that the Bay
Area residents needed. The con to this idea is it takes time to do the steps, and by the time we are
done with the preparing, the drained Anderson dam might have fallen down completely, meaning we
would have to pay more for cleaning up and the re-building, which I hope would not happen.
Fortunately, the pros outraced the con, it is worth taking into consideration.

References:
Kremen, G. (2021, May 27). Valley Water completes flood protection project for Mountain View, Los

Altos. Valley Water Completes Flood Protection Project For Mountain View, Los Altos.
https://valleywaternews.org/2021/05/27/valley-water-completes-flood-protection-project-for-

mountain-view-los-altos/.

(http Jimmy Phan (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474356)
3:53pm

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Hi Dang,

I agree with you. I dont think the dam should completely be shut down but rather
probably rebuilt or series of testing in order to for the dam to fully work with the safety
of the people and the environment. Rather than shut it down what I believe was
resupplying the damn with water and build hydropower in order to help the dam to
work. I also still remember the idea that an earthquake could completely destroy the
dam but I believe rebuilding the old dam in to a new dam and improving will be the
better outcome.

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(https:// Jimmy Phan (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4474356)
3:47pm

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While the Anderson Dam is already in critical condition one improvement that we can make
to benefit the people and environment is hydropower. Hydropower is the movement water
in order to produce energy. Hydropower could be a benefit because it can create electrical
power without polluting the environment such as other methods used to create electricity.
The Dam is already structurally still intact all they have to due to is add hydropower pumps
within the dam. This allows the movement of water within the reservoir which produces a
good amount of energy from electricity for human usage. Through using this method
hydropower also allows flood control, irrigation, and water supply. Hydropower is a clean
renewable energy method that will help protect the environment and help provide power to
the people.

By trying this method it will allow us to not pollute the environment by mass-producing
electricity such as burning fossil fuels or using fracturing. Floods will be prevented, which
will not harm the soil and the ecosystem that is around the reservoir. This is a well-
recommended method to help the dam still be intact and fully functional rather than being
destroyed. This idea will allow the city workers to fix the dam completely allowing it to work
at its fullest capacity. As a result, the hydropower turbines used in this scenario will still be
involved. This is also helpful to the dam environmentally and sustainability. Furthermore,
having the dam repair will help with the city water issue rather than importing the water
from a certain region into the bay area.

(https:// Joy Everson (https://sjsu.instructure.com/courses/1424294/users/4253321)
4:17pm

Closing the Anderson Dam is a complex matter, the method of which will require careful
planning. Draining the dam takes a considerable amount of time and poses its own risks.
The reservoir actually helps support the dam in the event of an earthquake; so long as the
earthquake is less than a magnitude of 6.6, the dam should be able to withstand it (Egelko
& Cabanatuam, 2020). Unfortunately, because of the San Andreas Fault, earthquakes of
such magnitude are not uncommon. With that said, the dam should be closed, but with
precaution. Because less water will mean even less stability, research ought to be done to
determine ways to further stabilize the dam while it is being drained. Moreover, the
reservoir contains valuable water and California is prone to droughts and fires; therefore, it
should not be drained too hastily. It is critical that safety not be sacrificed for speed. Lastly,
by draining the dam at a moderate pace, the Bay Area can still have access to the much

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needed water. All in all, the goal should be to drain the dam in an optimized manner that
maintains the stability and accounts the possibilities of droughts, fires, and earthquakes,
and, in the worst case scenario, has the city prepared for the possibility of a flood.

References (had trouble formatting the indentations through canvas):

Egelko, B., & Cabanatuan, M. (2020, February 26). Feds order South Bay reservoir drained
amid fears of catastrophic dam failure. San Francisco Chronicle.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Feds-order-Silicon-Valley-water-district-
to-drain-15081724.php (https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Feds-order-Silicon-
Valley-water-district-to-drain-15081724.php)

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Feds-order-Silicon-Valley-water-district-to-drain-15081724.php

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