In December, President Obama signed into law a major water infrastructure  bill that will help provide necessary funding authorization for key projects the Santa Clara Valley Water District is pursuing for flood protection and potentially local water reuse projects.

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), also known as the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) included construction authorization of the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study for Economic Impact Area 11 (the EIA 11 Shoreline Project in the south San José-Alviso area).

The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study is a congressionally authorized study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) together with the water district and the State Coastal Conservancy to identify and recommend flood risk management and ecosystem restoration projects along South San Francisco Bay for federal funding. Within the South Bay region, the south San José-Alviso area was identified as the project’s first phase, because of high estimated potential flood damages, including damages to homes, businesses, and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. The EIA 11 Shoreline Project proposes to construct 4 miles of new levees along the existing former salt pond berms, restore 2,900 acres of tidal marsh habitat and includes recreational elements. This project has also been recognized for its importance in preserving the economic development potential of the region.

The EIA 11 Shoreline Project was authorized for $177 million for construction. This was a necessary step for USACE to be able to request federal construction dollars for the EIA 11 Shoreline Project. If approved in the federal budget process, the EIA 11 Shoreline Project would benefit in receiving construction dollars from USACE to help the water district meet its local goal to protect low-lying areas of San José and Alviso from flooding by a flood event that has a 1 percent probability of occurring in any given year.

The legislation also authorizes $50 million for eligible projects that reclaim and reuse municipal, industrial, domestic, or agricultural wastewater; or reclaim and reuse impaired ground or surface water. If approved for funding, this would potentially benefit the water district’s Expedited Purified Water Program to develop and construct treatment, conveyance and recharge facilities to reuse local recycled wastewater to augment our water supplies. This program would ensure the water district meets its goal to develop a locally controlled, reliable and drought-proof water supply in Santa Clara County by responding to cyclical climate change, drought conditions, and supplementing up to 45,000 acre-feet per year for potable reuse.

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