As the 2019 chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors, my priorities are both familiar and challenging.
They are familiar in that they continue the work the board has committed to in ensuring our community has a safe and secure supply of water while protecting homes and businesses from flooding and taking care of our natural environment. They are challenging in that while ensuring we push forward on new initiatives to tackle these important issues, we continue the critical maintenance of existing facilities and programs already in place that provide benefits to our communities.
My personal goal for the district is that everything we do, whether it is developing new sources of water or designing flood protection projects that keep our communities safe, has a net positive effect on the environment.
It is my belief that by doing so we improve the quality of life for all of us in Santa Clara County.
The aim of improving our environment goes much deeper than ensuring that the health of local creek ecosystems is accounted for in managing our water supplies. That goal is present in our Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection program, our work with the Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat Collaborative Effort on the Coyote and Stevens creeks and Guadalupe River, and in our role in shaping the future of the beautiful open spaces of Coyote Valley.
More than that, it informs our decisions when we deliberate on critical water supply proposals such as the state’s plans to secure water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration in the Delta. It is why it is so critical that we be at the table and our voice is listened to as those efforts move forward.
Closer to home, our continued development of recycled water – a critical component of future water supply reliability – will require strengthening our partnerships with all the cities in the county, building on the successful work we have accomplished with the City of San José.
In 2019 we also have the opportunity to make significant progress on another long-term goal, as we work through the planning and preparations for a proposed expansion of Pacheco dam and reservoir. This effort is a great example of incorporating both water supply and environmental benefits into a major infrastructure project.
I begin my new term as board chair as we have a new governor in Sacramento. And while we will closely monitor and participate in the ongoing statewide discussions of water supply development, there is one issue Governor Newsom has identified that I fully support. To the extent that we can, I support the governor’s plan to address the growing crisis of homelessness in our communities. This is not an issue in which we are the lead, but we need to be part of the solution. The district’s interest in both the health of our waterways and the health of our fellow citizens requires our attention and participation, and both are inseparable.
None of these objectives are without cost, and I am keenly aware of the need to maintain an open and transparent, fiscally accountable organization. Beyond that, I plan to continue the work directors Keegan, Hsueh and I began in investigating both alternative sources of funding and ensuring that we are maximizing the dollars we receive from the state and federal government.
While I am honored to serve the community as a board member and 2019 chair, I know my goals and priorities are only possible with the continued hard work not only of my fellow board members but the dedicated employees of the water district.
To that end, it is important to me that our staff is rewarded for innovative and creative problem solving and not be afraid to “think outside the box.” We have a diverse and highly educated workforce, and I am continually impressed by their knowledge, skill and dedication. It is especially gratifying to see the younger generation coming into their own. They are truly the future leaders of the organization and we are in good hands.
This year will not be without its challenges. I am confident that as we work through them and make progress toward our ultimate goals of a safe and secure water future, we will end the year having made a positive impact in our environment and our community.