On track: 38 voter-approved projects make strides

Five years after voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2012, the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program (Safe, Clean Water) is making remarkable progress in reducing flood risks and providing a safe, reliable water supply for the residents and businesses in Santa Clara County. The Santa Clara Valley Water District has just published the program’s fourth annual report.

The program, a 15-year special parcel tax, focuses on five priorities based on the community’s needs and values. The five priorities include ensuring a safe, reliable water supply; reducing toxins, hazards and contaminants in our water ways; protecting our water supply from earthquakes and natural disasters; restoring wildlife habitat and providing open space; and providing flood protection to homes, businesses, schools and highways.

The recently published report details the status of 38 projects and highlights some key accomplishments for fiscal year (FY) 2017. Here are some of the year’s most notable projects.

  • After a formal public hearing, the water district board of directors approved modifications to the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project to extend the project reach by approximately 2.9 miles upstream to Tully Road. This will include areas that were impacted by last winter’s flooding. The project’s target protection was also changed from 100-year flood protection, to protection from a storm equivalent to the February 21, 2017 flood.
  • In FY 2017 the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project entered the second year of construction out of a 3-year construction phase for the portion of the creek from Highway 101 to the bay. Work completed during this time includes a concrete block retaining wall, 20-foot high fence and a pedestrian ramp adjacent to the International School of the Peninsula and a floodwall of approximately 900 feet in length along the Palo Alto side of the creek from E. Bayshore Road toward the San Francisco Bay. This is the first of several phases of the project that will help protect 3,000 parcels from a storm of similar magnitude to the largest on record storm that caused severe flooding in February 1998.
  • The water district has made great strides on the Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project since construction of the Rancho San Antonio detention site began last December, including the completion of a new, expanded parking area for the county park. Construction on the McKelvey Park detention site began in January 2017.
  • The water district board approved $200,000 for a pilot mini-grant program in fiscal year 2017. The pilot program will provide seed funding of up to $5,000 per project to encourage broader and long-term community engagement for wildlife habitat restoration and watershed stewardship activities in Santa Clara County.
  • The water district’s Safe, Clean Water partnerships and grants, will allow for improved access to drinking water in Santa Clara County schools with the additional installation of hydration stations. The program was increased to allow for 50 hydration stations, with a maximum of 250 grants worth up to $254,000. The board also approved awarding grants to pilot-test new water conservation programs, including testing efficacy of advanced metering infrastructure in reducing water use.
  • Made possible through funding from the Safe, Clean Water Program, and in partnership with our volunteers and community partners, we removed approximately 1,037 tons of trash and debris from our waterways.

The Safe, Clean Water Program is monitored closely by the Independent Monitoring Committee (IMC), comprised of community members appointed by the water district board of directors. The committee was included in the program’s original ballot measure to evaluate the program’s performance, ensure accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility.

Each year, the IMC analyzes the water district’s Safe, Clean Water Program annual report while conducting its own annual audit of the program. The committee develops a report with its own findings, and includes recommendations related to the program priorities to present to the board of directors.

The FY2016-2017 Safe, Clean Water Annual Report is now available and can be viewed here. For more information on the FY 2017 annual report or the IMC, contact: Jessica Collins at 408-630-2200.

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