By Nai Hsueh, District 5, Valley Water Board of Directors
As we enter the rainy season and complete the sixth year of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection initiative, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the flood protection project milestones we have reached during 2019.
The Safe, Clean Water Program was developed with input from thousands of residents and stakeholders. Santa Clara County voters identified five priorities, amongst them providing flood protection to homes, businesses, schools, and highways. Initiatives under this program, are funded by a countywide special parcel tax overwhelmingly approved by voters of Santa Clara County in 2012.
In May, we achieved an important milestone on San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, completing the construction of the S.F. Bay to Highway 101 reach of the project. This included the installation of 4,000 feet of floodwalls and a significantly wider creek marsh plain. The completion of this stretch protects approximately 3,000 parcels in Palo Alto from a flood event like the one that occurred in February 1998, the largest flood on record.
We also began pre-construction work on the San Francisco Bay Shoreline Protection project in Alviso. Those pre-construction activities included stockpiling thousands of cubic yards of material, which will be used to construct a levee that will reduce coastal flood risks for the Alviso area, including nearby infrastructure facilities and businesses.
We joined federal, state and local partners in August 2019, to break ground on the Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project. Extending nearly 14 miles from Buena Vista Avenue in Gilroy to just beyond Llagas Road within the City of Morgan Hill, the project protects more than 1,100 homes and 500 businesses susceptible to flooding.
As we focus on reducing flood risks, our crews have worked to remove more than 18,000 cubic yards of sediment at 15 sites around the county, such as Guadalupe and Coyote creeks. The removal of this sediment, enough to fill up a football field 8.5 feet deep, ensures streams with flood protection projects continue to function as designed.
At Valley Water, we are looking towards the future, so we have completed flood protection action plans for Guadalupe River and its tributaries Ross and Canoas creeks in the Guadalupe Watershed, as well as West Little Llagas and Uvas creeks in the Uvas/LLagas watershed. With the completion of these two action plans, Valley Water has now completed action plans for four of the five watersheds in our county.
We could not have done this work without your support. On behalf of our community, I want to thank you for devoting your hard-earned tax dollars to help us provide safe, clean water and flood protection to Santa Clara County.