John L. Varela, Board Director, District 1 representative
Have you ever wondered how your local boating adventures are made possible? Did you know that in addition to providing safe, clean water and flood protection, as well as caring for the environment, the Santa Clara Valley Water District also works to provide recreation opportunities on its land and waterways.
With 10 reservoirs, multiple streams and percolation ponds, and other lands available, the water district believes public access to the lands that we own and maintain is important. To enable members of the community to make use of these scenic and environmentally significant lands, we have partnered with Santa Clara County for years to enlist the county’s assistance in achieving our goal of public access.
The water district board recently renewed this commitment through an agreement and shared principles that set up our partnership for the next 25 years. The county Board of Supervisors also approved the framework and agreement.
Included in the partnership is an ability to work jointly on signage to help inform the public that uses water district lands. The partnership on signs will help people understand more about what the water district does and how our lands and waters benefit the residents, businesses and wildlife of the county. These topics can include what the water district is doing to prepare for climate change, and how we protect and enhance water supply and habitat.
The water district and county have a 60-plus-year history of working together to provide recreation on water district lands. The water district provides about 6,000 acres of property to the county for recreational purposes, and 14 of the county’s 28 parks incorporate or abut water district land. Together, the two agencies support the launch of about 23,000 boats each year and around 138,000 visitors who fish in water district streams and reservoirs. They also support about 5,000 campers at the Coyote Lake Campground, which the county operates on water district property.
This partnership has provided for water quality protection, water conservation education, the recreational use of creeks and reservoirs, enhanced natural resources, restored habitats, improved flood protection and the removal of toxic mercury from the environment. With common goals and service areas, the water district and county play a mutual role in providing recreation to the people of Santa Clara County.