gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 64

Then and Now… A Look Back in History Before Anderson A nderson Dam and Reservoir were completed in 1950 after an energetic construction schedule that took advantage of the dry months of that year. A bond issue and the preliminary surveys were initiated in 1949, and then rapidly given the go-ahead. According to the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), in its book “Water in the Santa Clara Valley: A History,” because there were no federal or state funds involved, local control of the project allowed for an expedited timetable. Lexington Reservoir was actually in the pipeline to be built before Anderson, but a number of legal challenges regarding the proposed new Los Gatos to Santa Cruz highway pushed out that project until 1952.  Residents of Morgan Hill and San Martin, though, were so distressed about the potential of loss of water rights from the Coyote Creek watershed that they formed a short-lived Central Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation District 64 Written By Mike Monroe led by Ed Acton, Joe Chiri, and Judge Harold Holden, among others. Just as in North County, groundwater levels were dropping and land subsidence was a real concern, so an accommodation had to be achieved. In 1954, the 14,000 acres comprising the Central District, extend- ing from Coyote into San Martin, were annexed into its northern neighbor, and shortly thereafter the Main Street perco- lation ponds came online. Leroy Anderson was a leader in the first efforts to develop water conservation districts during the 1920’s, long before the formation of the SCVWD in 1968. While none of our major dams were built until the mid-1930s, farmers and orchardists realized that something had to be done about the worsening water supply situation. It was decided that the most effective method of water conserva- tion was to capture creek flows and allow our natural underground basins to be replenished through a system GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2017 of sack or check dams. These tempo- rary and inexpensive practices were intended to spread out the winter runoff across large acreages so that the water could percolate back into the aquifers instead of flowing into the Bay. Although Leroy Anderson passed away before the dam was finished, his key role in advocating for water conservation led to the dam and reservoir being named in his honor. Anderson was also the first president of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1902 and a professor of agriculture.     Let’s back up and take a quick tour of our local water history—before Anderson. Before all of our amazing engineering and water management, before all of the dust and grading for dams and channels, before all of the heavy equipment and blasting: What was this place like where Coyote Creek spills out from the Las Animas Hills of the Mt. Hamilton Range into the gently sloping plain of open grasslands and oaks we’ve come to know as the Santa Clara Valley?