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Valley Water CEO Statement on Baykeeper Lawsuit

September 30, 2022
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Valley Water is proud of our record as trusted and reliable guardians of Santa Clara County's beautiful creek and stream environment. This is a mission we fulfill through a careful balancing act. We must also ensure a reliable, affordable supply of safe, clean water to Santa Clara County's 2 million residents and businesses, and avoid land subsidence, even amid a severe drought emergency impacting water supplies and water levels.

This lawsuit jeopardizes the work we've already done with our partners to improve habitats in our creeks and waterways. Because the suit seeks explicitly to mandate the management of Coyote Creek, which runs from Anderson Dam to San Francisco Bay, it could also cause delays to the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. As our largest reservoir, such a delay threatens our water supply as we face record-low allocations and a severe historic drought.

This lawsuit smacks environmental justice in the face and could result in increased project costs, which directly impacts water rates. In this time of inflation and rising costs across our county, which is already one of the most expensive places to live and work, that impact has real consequences on those already struggling to make ends meet.

The legal action taken by Baykeeper could also potentially delay related projects to reduce flood risks to vulnerable communities along Coyote Creek. Although flooding can occur throughout the Santa Clara County, flood events tend to impact disadvantaged communities disproportionately. It’s critical that those groups who oppose certain projects consider the importance of environmental justice to allow for the fair treatment of all our communities.

Since 1999, Valley Water has worked tirelessly and diligently to adopt science-based policies to manage and protect Santa Clara County's watershed and aquatic ecosystems. These policies are reflected in the proposed fish habitat restoration plan that implements the Fish and Aquatic Habitat Collaborative Effort (FAHCE) settlement agreement. The FAHCE settlement agreement is a culmination of many years of negotiation and scientific study among Valley Water, environmental groups focused on fisheries protection, and state and federal government wildlife agencies.

We encourage Baykeeper to provide its input, expertise, and information in the process already set up through the FAHCE program, a collaboration that will help us work toward the best solutions to meet our region's habitat needs while providing safe, clean water to people living and working in Santa Clara County.

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.