SAN JOSE—The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s forward-thinking project to protect the southern end of the San Francisco Bay from sea-level rise and coastal flooding received a major boost in July when the federal government promised $177 million in Disaster Supplemental Funding.

This funding covers the cost of building the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project between Alviso Slough and Coyote Creek, but most of that amount will be paid back through state and local sources. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal sponsor of the project, announced the up-front funding on July 5.

The federal government’s portion of the $177 million project is about $71 million; the state share is about $61 million; and the water district’s share is almost $45 million. The water district and state will need to reimburse the Army Corps for our share of the project cost, but the up-front funding means there will be less time spent applying and waiting for funding, which should minimize construction delays.

“This is great news, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Richard P. Santos, chair of the water district’s board of directors and the director whose district includes the Shoreline area. “We are grateful to the Army Corps for this influx of funding which means we can help protect the vulnerable people and businesses of this area. That, in turn, will be beneficial to all of Santa Clara County. This funding means we won’t have to keep going back to ask for more, which will help the project move along.”

The Shoreline Project will provide flood protection, restore former salt evaporation ponds and improve public access to recreation. The project includes construction of 4 miles of a flood risk management levee; restoration of 2,900 acres of tidal marsh habitat; reduction of coastal flood risk for about 5,500 people. The project will protect the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility that serves 1.4 million people, the major Silicon Valley commute artery State Route 237, and the water district’s Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center.

The project is a partnership between the water district, the Army Corps, and the California Coastal Conservancy. When complete, it will protect low-lying areas of San José and Alviso from flooding, including many of the large companies that power Silicon Valley’s economy. The sea level in this area could rise as much as 3 feet over the next 50 years.

In April, the water district received $4.4 million for the project from Measure AA, a 9-county Bay Area ballot measure to generate $500 million over the course of 20 years to be used for flood protection and environmental restoration projects. That will go toward paying the water district’s local share of the project. The water district has also received $15 million for the local share from the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, a parcel tax passed by Santa Clara County Voters in 2012. State Senator Bob Wieckowski, whose district includes substantial shoreline areas including the area covered by this project, has authored Senate Bill 881, which could provide an additional $4 million to $7 million. If passed, the bill would make the project eligible for state subventions funding, or reimbursement from the state, thereby further reducing local costs to the project.

Next steps for the project include a planned public meeting in August, followed by the delivery of dirt for the project which is expected in the fall. Construction is expected to begin next summer.

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