By Linda J. LeZotte, Chair of the Valley Water Board of Directors
and representative for District 4
In January, when I became chair of the Valley Water Board of Directors, I said my priorities for the year were to continue the board’s work to ensure a safe, secure supply of water for our community while protecting homes and businesses from flooding, as well as protecting our natural environment.
We have been working toward that end all year, and in May, we adopted the 5-year Capital Improvement Program, which we revisit every year. That plan describes the capital projects Valley Water has under way or plans to begin in the next five years.
The Fiscal Year 2020-2024 rolling Capital Improvement Program contains 67 capital projects, for an estimated cost of $4.4 billion. Over the next five years, the total estimate for construction contracts to be awarded is approximately $1 billion, which will generate or sustain between 10,000 and 20,000 jobs.
These projects run the gamut from the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project aimed at providing emergency water storage for Santa Clara County and benefitting fisheries in Pacheco Creek to flood protection projects along Coyote Creek. All the identified projects are investments that will maintain and improve our flood protection infrastructure and support Valley Water’s mission of environmental stewardship.
They also provide a reliable water supply that Silicon Valley depends on for a healthy life, environment and economy. In addition to the Capital Improvement Program’s identification of projects that help us achieve this mission, we also are cognizant of the importance of conservation.
We never know when the next drought is coming or how long it will last. That’s why it’s important to make conservation a way of life. During our most recent drought, the Valley Water Board of Directors asked the community to cut back on their water usage by 30 percent, and the community stepped up, saving as much as 28 percent over 2013 water use levels.
With community conservation efforts, Valley Water’s management of our groundwater reserves and the help of a couple of wet winters, we have been able to bring our groundwater levels back up to the normal range, where we expect them to remain throughout the year. These efforts also helped us stave off subsidence, or the sinking of the land surface, which would be detrimental to infrastructure and our groundwater storage capacity. Our groundwater storage is important to help us weather dry times.
To help the community with conservation, we have a number of rebates we offer to residents and businesses, including rebates for converting lawns to drought-tolerant landscapes, for using water from your washing machine in your landscape, and irrigation system upgrades.
To learn more about how Valley Water can help you conserve, visit valleywater.org.