Stop the Pacheco Dam Project Coalition: Valley Water Seeks to Silence Tribal Band and Environmental Group

SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#stoppachecodam–The Sierra Club and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band formally joined the lawsuit filed by the Stop the Pacheco Dam Project Coalition against the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The lawsuit challenges the District’s reliance on exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the extensive geotechnical and other investigations to plan the proposed Pacheco Dam project. With doubts around the controversial dam project mounting, the water district filed a motion last week to squelch the participation of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Sierra Club.

In what is referred to as a “demurrer,” the District claims that the new groups’ participation in the lawsuit seeks to enforce an independent right and/or impose greater liability on the district. In fact, the amended complaint continues to seek enforcement of the minimum requirements of CEQA, consistent with the petition initially filed by the Stop the Pacheco Dam Project Coalition in August 2022. The initial Petition was filed in collaboration with environmental groups, including Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter and Friends of the River, as well as the Pacheco Land and Cattle Co.

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band seeks to protect ancient cultural artifacts and rare natural habitat that would be disturbed by the investigations and eventually inundated if the new dam project was built.

“The demurrer attempts to marginalize our work to protect sacred sites and resources,” said Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. “We intend to keep sharing our concerns and to prevent the irreparable destructive impacts from these investigations for the dam on sacred and ceremonial sites.”

The Sierra Club, a national non-profit organization of more than 800,000 members has concerns about the many negative environmental impacts that would result from this project.

“The Sierra Club is dedicated to promoting the responsible use of the earth’s resources and to educate and encourage people to respect those resources. That includes Valley Water,” said Michael Ferreira of the Sierra Club. “The environmental impacts that would result from the Dam project, coupled with the ever-growing cost to ratepayers, are not justifiable.”

The lawsuit in question asserts that Valley Water short-circuited the required environmental review of the proposed Pacheco Dam project’s extensive geotechnical investigations. According to the Coalition, the new Pacheco Dam would pose too great a risk financially without solving Santa Clara’s water challenges and vows to continue advocating for the protection of the environment and working ranchlands, as well as defending the voices of those who oppose the wasteful dam project.

“The demurrer is a thinly veiled stall tactic and an effort to stifle opposing voices that has no chance of disposing with the lawsuit, which the demurrer admits was timely filed,” said Coalition attorney Osha Meserve. “We are disappointed the water district is – yet again – wasting ratepayer resources. The fact remains that the dam project is infeasible, irresponsible, and poses far too many environmental harms. Valley Water also has not been forthcoming regarding costs, environmental impacts or water supply benefits of the project.”

You can read more about alarming problems with this proposed new dam, which the Coalition details in a recent letter to the California Water Commission, as well as various economic analyses, on the website. To view the amended lawsuit, click here and to view the demurrer, click here. The demurrer is scheduled to be heard on February 15, 2023.

About our Coalition

Our Coalition aims to protect Santa Clara County’s ratepayers and the environment, as well as working ranchlands, from this wasteful and high-risk project. For more information, visit our website at


Stop the Pacheco Dam Project Coalition

[email protected]

Access more than 30,000 jobs on Climate Change Jobs!