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Valley Water continues to expand level of service dedicated to cleaning trash generated by encampments

August 23, 2023
Valley Water crews clean up a creek in August 2023

On Aug. 22, 2023, the Valley Water Board of Directors allocated additional resources to support greater service and coordination toward cleaning up trash, debris, and hazardous pollutants  produced by encampments along waterways in Santa Clara County.

The Board of Directors approved two new staff positions, adding to Valley Water’s cleanup efforts countywide. The decision follows the Board of Directors' approval earlier this year of two new jobs dedicated to encampment cleanup operations and increased funding for related services and supplies.

“This investment in additional resources reflects Valley Water’s commitment to protecting the health of Santa Clara County's creeks,” Valley Water Board Chair John L. Varela said. “We continue to tackle the issue of creek pollution in collaboration with local and county governments, organizations that provide outreach services to unhoused individuals, and dedicated community volunteers.”

In the previous fiscal year (July 2022 – June 2023), Valley Water’s encampment cleanup crew removed more than 2.7 million pounds of trash, debris, and hazardous pollutants generated from encampments. The Board’s recent actions to expand the level of such service will allow Valley Water to double the number of cleanups during the year.

Recently, the Board of Directors also voted to support two new programs that further enhances cleanliness along our waterways. The Clean Camps, Clean Creeks Program will provide debit cards to unsheltered residents who maintain tidy camp areas free of trash and debris or collect and bag trash accumulated on land owned or managed by Valley Water.

The Portable Toilet Facilities Program will administer the provision and servicing of portable toilets and wash stations at 20 critical locations along local creeks to reduce biowaste entering the waterways.

To help support these efforts, Valley Water was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency providing approximately $2.2 million to perform encampment cleanups and provide portable toilets on heavily impacted creeks. The grant also provides about $900,000 to address encampment-generated environmental impacts on Coyote Creek.

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.