Every spring, Valley Water board members and executive staff meet with state elected officials and appointed agency leaders to advocate for water supply, flood protection, and environmental protection issues important to the people of Santa Clara County.
Although meeting in person remains on hold because of the COVID-19 public health crisis, a Valley Water delegation recently participated in a successful series of virtual meetings known as State Legislative Days.
On May 19 and 20, Vice Chair Tony Estremera, Director Richard Santos, and Director Linda LeZotte led a series of 14 virtual meetings with state legislators and administration officials, including the California Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Water Resources, the Santa Clara County state legislative delegation, and the leadership of the legislature.
A priority for the Valley Water Board of Directors is the passage of the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley Act (AB 3005), a bill sponsored by Valley Water and authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). If passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill will help ensure the expedited and expert construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.
By requiring the state to do its part to speed up project permitting approvals, AB 3005 will help reduce the risk to public safety from a large earthquake, ensure water security for Silicon Valley, and accelerate the many environmental enhancements of the project.
Another priority for these meetings was advocating for state economic stimulus funding. As California begins to restart the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Valley Water has a long list of water supply, flood protection, and environmental projects that are shovel ready. If fully funded, these projects could create more than 10,000 good-paying jobs throughout Santa Clara County.
The Valley Water Directors carried that important message to legislators who are considering an economic stimulus bond for the November 2020 statewide election, along with another proposal for a $25 billion Economic Recovery Fund fueled by an innovative plan to allow businesses and individual taxpayers to prepay taxes at a discount for tax years 2024 to 2033.
Valley Water’s Office of Government Relations will continue to vigorously advocate for these priorities as the state makes critical decisions on AB 3005 and economic stimulus.
PHOTO ABOVE Top row, left to right: Tony Estremera, Vice Chair, Valley Water; Richard Santos, Board Member, Valley Water; Heather Hamp, Senior Office Specialist, Valley Water; Rachael Gibson, Deputy Administrative Officer, Valley Water; Bart Broome, Assistant Officer, Valley Water.
Second row: Antonio Alfaro, Government Relations Advocate, Valley Water; Monica Miller, Contract Lobbyist, Valley Water; Melanie Richardson, Chief Operating Officer, Valley Water; Linda LeZotte, Board Member, Valley Water.
Third row: Rick Callender, Chief of External Affairs, Valley Water; Garth Hall, Deputy Operating Officer, Valley Water; Thomas Gibson, Deputy Secretary and Special Counsel for Water, California Natural Resources Agency; Karla Nemeth, Director, Dept. of Water Resources.
Bottom row: Chris Hakes, Deputy Operating Officer, Valley Water; Wade Crowfoot, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency.