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Statement on Governor’s announced changes

May 05, 2015

Our district’s desired outcome is a cost-effective, comprehensive, long-term solution for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that meets the water supply, reliability, and water quality needs of Santa Clara County while balancing other beneficial uses and providing a sustainable Delta ecosystem. Having a healthy Delta ecosystem is important for the state of California and for the quality of drinking water delivered through the Delta.

Imported water supplied via the Delta provides more than 40% of Santa Clara County’s annual water needs on average, providing water for 1.9 million residents and supporting the vibrant economy of Silicon Valley. Water delivered from the Delta serves three drinking water treatment plants and is also recharged into the groundwater basin—our region’s largest reservoir—to prevent the recurrence of land subsidence (the sinking of land), which poses a threat to underground infrastructure. Pumping restrictions in the south Delta have significantly reduced available imported water supplies in recent years, and this is likely to worsen in the future.

The proposed tunnels are intended to protect drinking water from salt water encroachment by routing water through the Delta in a way that is safer for fish, improve the ecosystem by providing more natural flow patterns. They also guard against major supply disruptions in the Delta, for instance due to earthquakes or widespread levee failure.

Our region has depended on water supplies imported from the Delta since 1965, when the State Water Project began delivering water to Silicon Valley. The later addition of federal imported water helped our region prosper, even through multi-year droughts, and stabilized local groundwater supplies.

To reduce our reliance on imported water, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is working aggressively to develop local water supplies and maximize water conservation efforts. However, these efforts are not enough to supply Silicon Valley’s current and growing water needs. Maintaining a reliable supply of imported water is essential to the future of our region, as is maintaining a healthy environment.

Governor Brown has had a long-standing commitment to achieve both water supply reliability and environmental restoration goals for the Delta. The water district is confident that the new programs—California EcoRestore and California WaterFix—will achieve these goals, both critical priorities for the Silicon Valley.

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.