“In an area that gets the same meager rainfall as Los Angeles and parts of North Africa, the visionaries who created our water system realized that unchecked groundwater pumping could no longer sustain the vast orchards of the Santa Clara Valley, let alone the population boom that would soon come. With Herculean effort, they built a network of reservoirs, tunnels and pipelines that today helps protect one of California’s largest metropolitan areas from nature’s caprices of droughts and floods.”
-Frank Sweeney, retired San Jose Mercury News environmental reporter
The Santa Clara Valley Water District, now known as Valley Water, was founded in 1929. As we celebrate our 90th year, we remain committed to providing safe, clean drinking water, as well as innovative water resources management, flood protection and environmental stewardship on behalf of Santa Clara County’s nearly 2 million residents.
Water has always been the lifeblood of our region. Thanks to your support, we can continually invest in projects and infrastructure that will help us ensure a reliable and safe water supply in a growing region, where water resources can be strained by both population growth and climate change.
“In many places, the horses on the wagon were forced to swim and only two or three persons could be taken at a time on account of the depth of the water”. – San Jose Mercury, March 7, 1911
Our story began back when Santa Clara County was a farming community faced with a sinking land and uncontrolled flooding, a consequence of years of excessive groundwater pumping. In 1929, a group of local farmers and business leaders came together to create the Santa Clara County Water Conservation District, recognizing the critical link between economic prosperity and reliable water supply.
At work on the Upper Page concrete and steel dam, 1932.
Those visionaries joined forces to invest in their future. They immediately overtook the monumental task of funding and building local reservoirs and they developed the first coordinated program to capture and store rainwater in the reservoirs. The water was then able to seep through the ground and replenish the groundwater basin.
Today, Valley Water effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds, and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.
Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center – the Wave of the Future
SAFE, CLEAN WATER
OUR WATER QUALITY LABORATORY
As we move into the future, we know that a safe, clean and reliable water supply is essential to sustain the Silicon Valley economy and our region’s quality of life. Through our state-of-the-art laboratory, we regularly monitor and test our treated water, reservoirs, creeks, and groundwater to ensure we meet or exceed all state and federal water quality standards.
THE SILICON VALLEY ADVANCED WATER PURIFICATION CENTER
We are developing a new, locally-controlled water supply by investing in a water purification facility that uses advanced methods to enhance the quality of recycled water. The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center (SVAWPC), the largest advanced water purification plant in Northern California, takes treated wastewater that would have otherwise been discharged into the San Francisco Bay and purifies it to an advanced level using innovative technologies.
DEVELOPING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE
A SEISMIC RETROFIT FOR ANDERSON DAM
Valley Water is committed to building and maintaining reliable infrastructures to ensure a safe drinking water supply for Santa Clara County’s residents.
Thanks to your tax dollars approved as part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, Valley Water is engaged in a major project to retrofit and strengthen Anderson Dam so it can safely withstand a strong earthquake. The effort is known as the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.
PACHECO RESERVOIR EXPANSION PROJECT
As we contend with climate change, future droughts, and population growth, we must make smart infrastructure investments today to secure a greater supply of safe, clean water that meets future needs. The expanded Pacheco Reservoir would have the capacity for water for 1.4 million people for one year in an emergency, preserve groundwater and protect infrastructure, while enhancing, protecting and restoring our environment.
FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECTS
Valley Water is dedicated to keeping residents and businesses safe through our flood protection programs. Projects funded by the voter-approved Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, underscore our commitment to investing in flood protection projects now as insurance for the future.
Santa Clara Valley waterways flow into the San Francisco and Monterey bays, taking any pollutants, debris and trash accumulated upstream with them. The Adopt-A-Creek program was established in 1992 to encourage residents of Santa Clara County to take an active role in helping to preserve the health and beauty of our local creeks. Over the past 27 years, our volunteers have picked up thousands of pounds of trash through our year-round clean up events.
OUR FLOOD PREPAREDNESS CAMPAIGNS
As we go through our rainy season, we need to remember that the weather in California is unpredictable. Climate change has made extreme weather the new normal and we need to be ready for floods.
Every year, we send a notice to more than 53,000 homes and businesses located in ares that are at high risk of flooding, designated as a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area. This notice, along with our website, outlines nine quick steps that residents and businesses can take to make sure they are flood-safe. Our campaign is also carried out through billboards, radio, print, and social media ads.
Valley Water supports an extensive water conservation program, which helps the community make water conservation a California way of life. These water conservation programs include a Water Wise Survey Program, a Landscape Rebate Program, a Water Efficient Technology Program for businesses, and much more. Valley Water is also out in the community, sharing information and techniques to make homes and businesses more water efficient. For more information about Valley Water’s conservation programs, go to watersavings.org.
Our job at Valley Water is not only to manage our water system and treatment plants but also to protect our community from flooding and take care of our streams, creeks, reservoirs, and groundwater. That’s why we spend a lot of time in classrooms teaching our students about water so they can be the water stewards of the future.
The Education Outreach Program also offers tours of Valley Water’s Outdoor Classrooms, and recently started using technology to move into the classrooms of the future, employing video conferencing tools to reach students remotely through the web.
Last spring, for the first time, Valley Water graduated its inaugural class of Water Ambassadors, who completed the agency’s newly launched Water 101 Academy. The program allowed a diverse group of 21 community ambassadors to learn about local water issues and projects impacting our region.
ENVIRONMENTAL GRANTS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Valley Water awards grants for selected qualifying projects under the Safe, Clean Water program. These grants include Water Conservation Research Grants, which encourage organizations to undertake research projects for new and innovative water conservation programs and technologies. Pollution Prevention Partnerships and Grants are awarded to projects that help reduce contaminants in surface or groundwater and toxins in our local waterways. Wildlife Restoration Grants aim to foster projects that create or enhance wetland, riparian and tidal marsh habitats.
Valley Water’s elected Board of Directors: (Left to right) Tony Estremera, District 6; Richard Santos, District 3; John L. Varela, District 1; Gary Kremen, District 7; Barbara Keegan, District 2; Nai Hsueh, District 5; Linda J. LeZotte, District 4
As we celebrate our 90th year, the mission of Valley Water continues to be to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment, and economy. We are entrusted to serve the public by carrying out this mission for the benefit of the community, proud to have honored the vision and foresight of our founders by growing into a nationally recognized leading water resources management agency.
Thanks for your constant support. We exist because of you.