The Patterson Chamber of Commerce announced they will host two presentations for and against the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir Project in September and October.
The Del Puerto Water District will be given time to present their case for the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir on Sept. 17 at 10 a.m.
Members of the Save Del Puerto Canyon group are scheduled to do a presentation on Oct. 16.
Those wishing to view the presentations can attend virtually via Facebook Live by visiting the Patterson Chamber of Commerce or Patterson Irrigator Facebook page on the presentations’ date and time.
The Chamber of Commerce meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at the chamber office behind U.S. Bank. Both groups will be given an allotted time to present their ideas or concerns.
The ongoing debate between supporters and opponents of the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir surfaced during an hour-long public comment period of Aug. 18’s Patterson City Council meeting.
Supporters of the project defended the reservoir, stating that the dam would bring much-needed water storage to the area. Opponents questioned why this location had to be the site of the project rather than alternative options.
Patterson resident and civil engineer Bobby Pierce addressed concerns about the hypothetical failure stating that controls are in place to account for safety.
“Although I do feel that public safety is a concern, it is really not valid in this sense,” Pierce said. “Water storage in this area would provide a tremendous benefit. Being south of the Delta (Mendota Canal), water is scarce. This project would help with water supply and address climate change. When in wet years, water can be put into storage.”
Pierce went on to say the project would bring water sustainability in the area as well as help with fire suppression in the canyon region.
“I think that’s something we can all benefit from today,” Pierce said. “Great project, great benefits, and I think it deserves the city’s support.”
Ric Ortega, General Manager of Grassland Water District Grassland Sustainability District, stated that the proposed dam would be a “new modern project” with a “tremendous” amount of oversight on the project from State and Federal officials. He emphasized its importance to agriculture in the area.
“Most of you folks know most of the rural communities south of the Mendota are completely dependent on groundwater,” Ortega said. “From a regional standpoint, there really isn’t a better project south of the Delta from an off-stream storage perspective.”
Patterson resident and farmer Daniel Bays supported the project and explained how valuable the project would be to local agriculture.
“Del Puerto Water District and the farmers it represents need the Del Puerto Reservoir to help manage our water supply to help manage our crops. Without a water supply, it is difficult to grow much of anything in this area,” Bays said. “We have great soil, but we need water in order to make it come to life. We need to be able to catch and store water during wet times. The reservoir will be another tool in our belt. I think there are many benefits, direct and indirect, the city can realize with this reservoir.”
Barry Boulton, a member of Save Del Puerto Canyon, pushed back against project supporters. Boulton stated that opponents of the Del Puerto Reservoir understand the needed water storage importance the benefits a dam would provide, but rather, their resistance to the proposition was centralized around the location.
He stated that alternative sites exist to facilitate such a project and questioned why the canyon location was chosen when concerns about the project’s impact on Patterson and the Del Puerto Canyon exist.
“This discussion has nothing to do with benefits. None of their proponents will address the negative impacts to Patterson,” Boulton said. “There will be negative impacts.”
Boulton cited the potential failure of the dam and the impact it will have to lower home prices in Patterson, a concern that may resonate with homeowners in the community, and asked the council to allow the group to have a presentation addressing their grievances.
“I request as we have so formally to give us the same opportunity as you gave them,” Boulton said. “Formally discuss and show you why the location in Del Puerto Canyon is inappropriate and unnecessary.”
Patterson resident Sean Hansen vocalized his opposition to the project.
He stated he understood that farmers need the water, but that “this site is going to put the city of Patterson in jeopardy. If we have a catastrophic failure, we could have ten-foot waves come through Patterson. Also, there are alternative sites this project could be moved to,” Hansen said. He claimed that the push for this project had a “conflict of interest.”
“There are other options, and we don’t have to put a city in danger. They have a conflict of interest in this. They are jeopardizing our town for money. It is wrong. Yes, it could cost more money and time, but this is why we have the Del Puerto (Water) District. This is why they can make new plans.”
Hansen pushed for an opportunity for opponents and supporters to hold presentations and debate the topic.
“It is unacceptable that the Del Puerto Reservoir Project has left us out. We feel that we are being railroaded here. Let the Del Puerto Water District come out here and give out info on why they want the project and let the Save Del Puerto Canyon explain why they are against it. This is not democratic.”
Patterson City Council had held workshops regarding the subject in the past, and there is no request from the council to reopen the topic at this time.