Looking back at 2018

By Chair Richard Santos, representative of District 3

This year, I had the honor of serving as chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors and helped lead the organization to a number of successes. The water district is responsible for bringing safe, clean water to our county, providing flood protection and caring for streams. Here is a look at some of our accomplishments from 2018.

South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project This water district project will protect the southern end of the San Francisco Bay from coastal flooding, and will restore wetlands. The district successfully advocated for the project, and in July, the federal government promised $177 million to cover the cost of the project between Alviso Slough and Coyote Creek. The state and water district will eventually pay back about $106 million, but the up-front funding will result in fewer funding delays. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also included $500,000 in their Fiscal Year 2019 Work Plan for a study for the second phase of the project from the edge of Alviso to Santa Clara County’s western border in Palo Alto. This funding announcement followed the water district’s most recent advocacy trip to Washington D.C., in November, and is an important step toward ensuring full shoreline protection and restoration.

Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project The water district crafted a solid plan to expand the existing Pacheco Reservoir. Showcasing the value of the project to the environment and the community helped convince the state to award the water district $485 million for the project. The expansion of the reservoir in south Santa Clara County is expected to improve steelhead habitat, provide an emergency water supply, reduce flood risks to disadvantaged communities, expand the refilling of our groundwater aquifers and provide water to wildlife refuges.

New water truck H2O to Go, the water district’s new water truck, debuted in March and can be found at community events where it dispenses tap water and engages residents in learning about our water supply. It’s also available for support in emergencies.

Volunteers keep creeks clean In Fiscal Year 2018, the water district recruited 3,660 volunteers who cleaned 159 miles of creeks, picking up 123,005 pounds of trash. Their efforts provided about $519,955 worth of benefit to the community.

Better partnerships Our progress depends on our partnerships at all levels of government. The water district Board of Directors held a number of joint meetings with other government agencies including the county and cities to discuss mutual interests. We focused on bringing the community better service, better projects and making better use of the public’s funds. The board also adopted an environmental justice policy to promote practices, principles, and programs that support environmental justice for disadvantaged communities

Improvements in emergency preparedness We completed an Emergency Action Plan with the City of San José to outline a strategy to prepare for, communicate and respond to flooding on Coyote Creek and other waterways. We continued work on our flood protection projects, and launched a robust flood awareness campaign.

Penitencia Force/Delivery Main Seismic Retrofit Project We replaced three aging pipelines at our Penitencia Water Treatment Plant with a special pipe designed to withstand a large earthquake. The new pipe will increase the reliability of our drinking water supply and the safety of our neighbors.

Rebranding After 40 years, the water district’s look and feel is getting a facelift. The board approved a new logo and tagline that more accurately reflect the work that the water district does. The agency will also go by the nickname “Valley Water,” a simpler way to refer to the organization that provides an important service to Santa Clara County.

All in all, 2018 was a year of tremendous progress, and I look forward to continuing that progress in 2019.

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