Due to the low water level in Anderson and Coyote reservoirs, boating will be suspended at both reservoirs on Oct. 6. To mitigate the reservoirs’ early closure, the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department will increase boating days at Calero, and keep Stevens Creek and Lexington reservoirs open on weekends and holidays in order to provide options for recreational boaters and anglers.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District has been minimizing releases from Anderson Reservoir in an attempt to extend the boating season as long as possible. By maximizing the use of imported water over the summer to supply the county’s drinking water needs, the district was able to keep the water level high enough to allow boating until early October.
The low level is a result of two factors, storage restrictions and the abnormally low rainfall last winter.
Anderson Reservoir’s water level cannot exceed 68 percent of its full capacity due to seismic stability issues that the water district discovered in 2010. The California Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have restricted storage in the reservoir until its seismic issues are addressed. As a result, the district was not able to maximize the storage of water during the winter of 2010-11.
The winter of 2011-12 was the driest year since 1976. With inflows to the reservoir from the surrounding foothills at less than 15 percent of normal, Anderson Reservoir has continued to drop to the point that the reservoir’s boat ramp stops short of the water line.
Built in 1950 as a water supply source, Anderson Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County, with a capacity of 90,373 acre-feet of water (29 billion gallons). A seismic retrofit project is scheduled to begin construction in 2016. The reservoir is located on Cochrane Road east of Morgan Hill. Coyote Reservoir, built in 1936, is upstream of Anderson Reservoir and also has a DSOD storage restriction.