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How the Almaden Lake Project will help the environment

January 30, 2020
Almaden Lake rendering

Director Linda J. LeZotte, District 4

With the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Almaden Lake Improvement Project now closed, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the members of the community who have participated in our extensive outreach for this project. As an initiative funded through our Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection program, the Almaden Lake project is locally financed, and it is very important that our community’s voice is heard.

It was great to see more than 60 people attend our Jan. 8 public meeting at Valley Water’s headquarters, just a couple of blocks away from Almaden Lake to express their views and opinions on the environmental impact of the proposed project. The gathering marked the 22nd public meeting Valley Water has hosted since outreach on the project began in 2012.

Almaden Lake is located about five miles away from the site of the old New Almaden Quicksilver Mine, a gold rush era mine that resulted in the release of thousands of tons of mercury into local creeks and the Guadalupe Watershed. Since the formation of Almaden Lake by the erosion of the old gravel quarry, mercury-laden sediment that flows down Alamitos Creek has accumulated at the bottom.

To address these issues, the project team proposes to build a levee to separate Alamitos Creek from Almaden Lake. Post-construction, the lake will feature the existing island and a new island. To improve water circulation, the lake bottom will be re-contoured and water from the lake will be discharged to the Alamitos Percolation Pond. The creek flows will be isolated to the restored creek section, providing a direct connection from Alamitos Creek to Guadalupe River, as it once did before the park was created in the 1980s.

The native Central California Coast steelhead, a species listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act, will be able to swim through improved conditions bypassing the waters of the lake, where they risk getting lost and being preyed upon by invasive species, such as bass.

The Final Environmental Impact Report will be brought to the Valley Water Board of Directors in the summer of 2020. The extensive community input we've gathered ensures me, along with my board colleagues, that our decision will be well informed. We will be responding in writing to all comments received during the review period of the draft in the final EIR.

Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection matter to all of us. Thanks for working side-by-side with Valley Water, as we maintain our commitment to protect the environment, restore habitat and improve water quality.

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district 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 285 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 294 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.