By Director Nai Hsueh, representative for District 5
Santa Clara County is home to beautiful creeks and rivers. We all enjoy them, but protecting these sensitive waterways from urban pollution is a challenge that we can only conquer together. During May 2021, we accomplished that when hundreds of volunteers, from scout troops to university students, Adopt-A-Creek partners, and engaged residents joined National River Cleanup month to collect trash around their neighborhoods.
The results are in! We are excited to report 676 volunteers participated in the National River Cleanup effort and cleaned 123 miles overall, picking up 10.8 tons of trash, including more than 200 pounds of recyclables in Santa Clara County. I want to thank the Creek Connections Action Group, volunteer leaders, Adopt-A-Creek partners and all the volunteers. You are real local heroes!
Since trash can travel through storm drains, creeks, and rivers to become bay pollution, collecting debris in your neighborhood is a great way to prevent it from flowing to our streams and waterways. In response, Valley Water is also working year-round to clean our creeks. Recently, our workers cleaned up Saratoga Creek around Kiely Boulevard, Tracy Drive, and Homestead Road in Santa Clara. Our crews removed almost 2.6 tons of trash and debris generated from encampments along the waterways in early June. We also worked on cleaning up Calabazas Creek, removing 3.2 tons of waste and debris from the area of El Camino Real and Tasman Drive.
Sadly, trash from illegal dumping activities near our creeks, combined with trash from homeless encampments along our waterways, increased over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Valley Water has been performing large-scale trash cleanups this past year throughout jurisdictional areas in our waterways countywide. Thus far, we have removed 2,824 cubic yards of trash working a safe distance away from active homeless encampments to protect our staff and the homeless community.
Under the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, Valley Water has dedicated over $38.7 million to continue the ongoing coordination with local cities and agencies to clean up large creekside encampments that contaminate waterways. This cooperative effort includes working with local municipalities, social services organizations, and nonprofit advocacy groups and allocating $500,000 per year in cost-share with other agencies for services related to encampment cleanups. The Safe Clean Water Program also will provide resources and financial assistance to community groups for 300 annual volunteer cleanup activities, such as National River Cleanup Day, California Coastal Cleanup Day, and Adopt-A-Creek.
Valley Water is committed to making sure we maintain the health of our water supply and wildlife by reducing the impact of urban pollution. Please consider participating in this community effort by joining our year-round organized cleanups at www.cleanacreek.org.