Last week, Shivaugn Alves suggested that the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority are not being transparent, ethical, or acting within the law in their study of the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir (Your Voice, March 26). That accusation is completely false. As we have been evaluating the project’s feasibility, we have shared information as it has been developed, and addressed other issues at public review meetings and community workshops in July and December 2019 and January and February 2020. We will plan additional public meetings in the coming months. The Draft Environmental Report for the project is and has been available for the public’s review, we have a website with excellent information (www.delpuertocanyonreservoir.com), and we recently sent a mailing to every address in Patterson about the project and how the public can stay informed.

Providing full explanations of the project and the associated flood mapping, in a public forum where those interested can ask questions and receive responses, is a commitment we have made. We had hoped do this at scheduled meetings in March and April, but we won’t be able hold this meeting until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. We would appreciate the community’s patience as we, like everyone else, are working through all of the issues the current pandemic has placed upon us as agency heads and community leaders.

The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir project is still early in the process, and is undergoing a thorough preliminary design as the project partners study its feasibility. As outlined in the Draft Environmental Impact Report, we performed the inundation analysis to inform our feasibility study as we work with the California Department of Safety of Dams (DSOD) and other agencies to identify the safety factors that must be incorporated into the dam design to ensure that it doesn’t fail. This is a critically important step in the early stages of the dam design process, which will ultimately lead to a safe facility that will provide a reliable water resource for our community, among other benefits.

In 2017, the California Legislature passed a law requiring all state jurisdictional dams, except low hazard dams, to develop inundation maps and emergency action plans. Every dam in California holding a large body of water is required to have an inundation study that includes mapping. Every one of those maps shows that if that dam were to breach, flooding below the dam would occur. The mapping informs the project design and emergency planning. Submission of final dam inundation maps to the California Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) typically occurs near the end of design when dam details are finalized, which would be several years from now. The Del Puerto Canyon Dam cannot be constructed without the approval of DSOD with full compliance with all DSOD and other State agency safety requirements.

We look forward to meeting with the community when possible to present the completed mapping and to discuss other aspects of the project.

Anthea Hansen

General Manager

Del Puerto Water District

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