Valley Water reaches milestone in work to improve fish habitat in Santa Clara County

By Director Barbara Keegan, representative for District 2

As Santa Clara County deals with extreme drought, Valley Water is taking every necessary step to ensure our communities have safe, clean water. Our agency also provides natural flood protection and protects our county’s watersheds and aquatic ecosystems.

We must be mindful of balancing these objectives.

Valley Water recently reached a milestone in our essential work of improving fish habitat along our creeks while also considering Santa Clara County’s water supply. On June 30, our agency published the draft environmental impact report (EIR) on the Fish and Aquatic Habitat Collaborative Effort. This document will serve as a roadmap to balancing our water supply operations while considering impacts to the environment.

Now, we are asking for the public’s input on this report as we continue our work.

The plan details how Valley Water proposes to release water from our reservoirs while providing habitat for steelhead and Chinook salmon to swim and spawn through the Stevens Creek and Guadalupe watersheds. The document also details how plants, wildlife, fisheries and water supply will be affected under different scenarios for operations and what we can do to enhance all the various benefits.

Our effort has endured some challenges and accomplishments, but the release of the draft EIR is a great achievement. On behalf of the Board of Directors’ Stream Planning and Operations Committee, I’d like to thank the outside agencies and stakeholders who helped us reach this milestone.

On July 21, Valley Water held a virtual public meeting and shared information about the draft EIR. The public can watch the recording by visiting https://fb.watch/v/1fp3_EKlB/.

The draft EIR is available for review online at, www.valleywater.org/node/1828/ in person at your local library and at Valley Water, 5700 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, Ca. Public comments are being accepted through Friday Oct. 15, 2021 at 5 p.m. ​Please send your written comments to:

Ryan Heacock, Senior Water Resources Specialist
Santa Clara Valley Water District​
Operations and Maintenance Environmental Support Unit
5750 Almaden Expressway​
San José, CA 95118-3686​
FAHCE@valleywater.org 
408-265-2600

Please include a name, address, contact number, and email address for future correspondence related to this California Environmental Quality Act process.

The plan will also help Valley Water maintain groundwater recharge to make sure we continue to have a safe and reliable water supply. This is especially important given the extreme drought conditions affecting Santa Clara County and most of California.

To better deal with the drought, my fellow board members and I declared a water shortage emergency condition in early June 2021. On July 8, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom included Santa Clara County in the state’s drought emergency proclamation, underscoring the serious threats facing the region’s water supply.  

I urge everyone to do what they can to conserve water. Every drop saved today is one that is available tomorrow. Valley Water offers a variety of water conservation tips, rebates and programs. To learn more, visit watersavings.org.

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