This project allows Valley Water to revitalize habitat for rare, threatened or endangered species or vegetation types, and create a more contiguous corridor for wildlife, including pollinators. Funding helps to restore degraded habitat by removing invasive plants and/or revegetating with native species. Funding is prioritized for projects that include community partnerships or provide education for nearby landowners and other stakeholder groups on the control of harmful species.
The project will also create an Early Detection and Rapid Response Program to identify and treat small infestations of new weeds before they become established.
Increasing the quality and quantity of native habitat areas and improving the connections between them are important adaptive strategies to support native species as climate conditions change. It increases access to new areas for migration and more room for hiding, hunting, breeding and rearing as needs evolve and increase.
See Environmental & Community Benefits section for complete description of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
KPI #1: (Revitalize acres)
Since the inception of the renewed Safe Clean Water Project D2 in FY22, through FY23, Valley Water and its partners have revitalized approximately 3.7 acres. (Acreage total will be updated with FY24 values after June 2024).
- Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (Habitat Agency) – In FY23, Valley Water and the Habitat Agency entered into a pilot agreement to remove invasive vegetation to enhance special status species habitat at some of the Habitat Agency’s reserve properties with high-priority invasive plant problems. Work began in April 2023 to remove up to 14 acres of barbed goatgrass (Aegilops triuncialis) at the Baird and Davidson Reserves, which encompass rare and sensitive serpentine plant communities, and to remove up to nine (9) acres of artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus) from Coyote Ridge East Preserve, which is home to extant populations of the federally threatened species California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and California red-legged frog (Rana aurora). This work is expected to take up to three years to complete. In November 2023, a three-year agreement was signed between the two organizations to continue this project and allow for additional work on other Habitat Agency preserves. Progress will be reported in future updates.
- California State Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) [since 2018] – Controlling invasive smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) in partnership with the Conservancy and Invasive Spartina Project. Click for a map of invasive Spartina coverage. In FY23, the Conservancy treated 2.7 acres of invasive Spartina within a matrix of over 8,700 acres of tidal marsh and ecotone habitats in Valley Water’s service area. All 2.7 acres this year are retreatment, ensuring that this aggressive invader and ecosystem engineer does not regain a foothold in sensitive bayland habitats, imperiling endangered species such as the Ridgway’s rail (Rallus obsoletus obsoletus). This partnership is scheduled to continue through 2026.
- Grassroots Ecology (Grassroots) – In FY23, Grassroots continued its work to restore a section of the San José - Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility buffer lands in Alviso for foraging habitat for pollinators and burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia, California species of special concern). After planting over 825 plants in 2022 into upland habitat islands and seasonal wetland test plots, in FY23, Grassroots increased the restoration area by 0.2 acres by removing invasive stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens) and yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) around the planting areas. In July 2022, they also conducted a pollinator bioblitz, a targeted identification activity where the goal was to assess pollinator diversity in the restoration area and the adjacent weedier mowed burrowing owl mound plain area. In two 30-minute sessions, the naturalist intern team collected 76 observations and identified 26 insect species, resulting in a snapshot of pollinator diversity in the two different habitat zones. The 0.5-acre restoration area is adjacent to a 201-acre site managed for burrowing owls by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (Habitat Agency). The current effort is a native revegetation pilot project and talks are ongoing about a future collaboration with the Habitat Agency and Grassroots to further expand the footprint of the current restoration area.
- Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) – The partnership with Midpen in the 2012 Safe Clean Water Program was the most fruitful of the D2 partnerships in terms of acreage of invasive vegetation removed. Because of this, both parties decided to extend the partnership for five additional years until FY28. New projects were initiated in FY23, including projects to control multiple high-priority invasive species in reserves across Santa Clara County. These include projects at Sierra Azul, Fremont Older, and Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve.
- In FY23, outreach and volunteer work in collaboration with Midpen’s subcontractor Grassroots Ecology (Grassroots) continued in Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve. Grassroots provided six (6) service-learning events, averaging 12 volunteers per event (events were limited in the number of participants to ensure social distancing). Service-learning events are volunteer events where Grassroots staff provide information about the habitat where work is being performed (in this case, the unique redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) wetland ecosystem) and about invasive plant eradication, provide training in invasive plant removal methods and then volunteers do invasive plant removal. Grassroots and volunteers also planted 14,000 native plants into the Bear Creek site 01 wetland area at Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve in December 2022.
- Midpen’s revitalization effort includes removing invasive vegetation, such as teasel (Dipsacus spp.), yellow starthistle, French broom (Genista monspessulana), and stinkwort, and installing wetland and upland container plants and native seeds at service-learning events with Grassroots and other Midpen volunteer events, including “Land Stewards” volunteer events and Advanced Resource Management Stewards projects. The total proposed project area is 17.8 acres. The work has been initiated on 8.6 acres and is anticipated to continue through FY28. The acreage to be credited to D2 will be determined beginning in FY24.
- City of San José – In FY23, the City of San José and its contractor completed a five-year D2 partnership revitalizing approximately 1.5 acres at the Coyote Creek invasive giant reed (Arundo donax) and other non-native vegetation removal site between Oakland Road and Berryessa Road. Revegetation after invasive vegetation removal activities was done using a native seed mix. Calendar year 2022 was the final year of the five-year agreement. The city and its contractor reported a 90% giant reed removal rate. The 1.5 acres of native habitat revitalization credited to D2 considered the 90% effectiveness rate (1.58-acre site with 1.12-acre giant reed cover historically minus 0.11 acres or 10% remaining to be controlled). Work at the site has been challenging over the years due to camps, which could not be cleaned up during the pandemic but were during other years.
KPI #2: (Early Detection and Rapid Response Program Development)
- Valley Water developed a draft target list of EDRR species in 2019 and will continue to refine it during the EDRR manual development process.
- Valley Water hired a consultant in 2022 to assist in the development of the EDRR Program, as part of a comprehensive Integrated Invasive Plant Management Program. Program manual development, including the EDRR component, has begun, and the CEQA process will be initiated in FY24. The EDRR program manual is expected to be completed on the same timeline as the IIPMP manual, currently planned for development in FY24 and FY25.
KPI #3: (Early Detection and Rapid Response Implementation)
- In FY23, Valley Water identified and documented 125 populations of target emergent invasive species. When combined with the 69 populations identified in FY22, this results in a total of 194 documented under the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program (since FY22). Once the EDRR program is operational, all identified populations, including those identified and documented before the start of the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program in July 2021, will undergo a prioritization process, based upon the results of which a subset will be selected for treatment.
KPI #4: (Information sheets)
- Valley Water will develop information sheets for high-priority early detection species in the county. The timeline for information sheet development is expected to coincide with that of the EDRR manual, currently anticipated to begin in FY24.
- Valley Water is a founding and active member of the Santa Clara County Wildlife Corridors Working Group with the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Caltrans, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Santa Clara County Parks, Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (VHA), Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Open Space Authority (OSA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), De Anza College and others.
- Valley Water is an active member of the Santa Clara Weed Management Area (SCWMA) working group with Santa Clara County Parks, California State Parks, County of Santa Clara Division of Agriculture, Caltrans and other area partners.
Web sites and online tools
- CA Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) - scroll down to the middle of Cal-IPC’s home page for science-based tools and information
- Calflora - an abundance of information on California plants;
- Calfora’s What Grows Here
- SFEI’s historical ecology - shows past and present habitats, and environmental conditions important for habitat revitalization
- Sycamore Alluvial Woodland Planting Guide (Loma Prieta RCD, SFEI, and HT Harvey 2018)
- Sycamore Alluvial Woodland: Habitat mapping and regeneration study (Beagle et al., 2017 SFEI)
- Re-Oaking - CA oaks and other native trees (SFEI)
- Resilient Silicon Valley - improving ecosystem health (SFEI)
- Urban Ecological Planning Guide for Santa Clara Valley by SFEI (2019)
- San Francisco Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project (2016)
- Santa Clara County Wildlife Corridors Working Group recommendations to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on the Monterey Road corridor in Coyote Valley
- NBC Bay Area Open Road with Doug McDonnell Coyote Valley Wildlife Corridor
- PG&E Plant the right tree in the right place
- Calscape by CNPS - native butterflies & moths by location, including host plants
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) PLANTS Database
- USDA Forest Service invasive species
- National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC)
- California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Encycloweedia noxious weeds
- Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, University of California (UC IPM)
- State Water Resources Control Board posts slide presentations on the problem of invasive species, including plants
- San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board – Invasive non-native species to avoid in wetland projects in the San Francisco Bay Region (2006)
- Cal-IPC Invasive Plant Management references including EDRR and Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands (Bossard et al. 2000)
Methods to control invasive plants
- Don't Plant a Pest! (CAL-IPC)
- Don't plant me! (CDFW)
- Weed Workers’ Handbook (The Watershed Project and Cal-IPC)
- Practical Guidebook for the Identification and Control of Invasive Aquatic and Wetland Plants (SFEI)
Water mold alerts
- CalPhytos Phytophthoras in native plants
- Sudden oak death – California Oak Mortality Task Force
- Phytophthora pathogens threaten rare habitats and conservation plantings (Frankel et al. 2020)
- Valley Water hosted symposiums:
Record, Track and Monitor Weeds
- Calflora’s Weed Manager (WM) enables organizations engaged in land management to track weed infestations and treatments over time.
Native Plant Gardens
- Valley Water’s Landscape Rebate Program
- California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and its Santa Clara Valley Chapter
- South Bay Green Gardens
- CNPS Calscape Garden Planner
Santa Clara County Native Habitat Plant Palettes
FY22-36 Key Performance Indicators for the Safe, Clean Water Program
Revitalize at least 21 acres over a 15-year period through native plant revegetation and/or removal of invasive exotic species.
Develop an Early Detection and Rapid Response Program Manual.
Identify and treat at least 100 occurrences of emergent invasive species over a 15-year period, as identified through the Early Detection and Rapid Response Program.
Develop at least eight (8) information sheets for Early Detection of Invasive Plant Species.
Increases viability of native plant species by reducing competition from non-native, invasive species
Improves habitat by installing tidal, riparian, and upland plant species or allowing native vegetation to passively regenerate after treatment/removal of invasive species
Improves ecological function of existing riparian, wetland and potentially upland habitats to support more diverse wildlife species
Improves patchy wildlife corridors by increasing connectivity with nearby habitat areas
Increases community awareness about the damaging impact that non-native, invasive plants have on local ecosystems
Helps to prevent new invasive species from becoming established
Early Detection Invasive Species Information Sheets will guide staff and public on identification and treatment options, raise public awareness, and help prevent the spread of new noxious weeds
Geographic Area of Benefit
About the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program
In November 2020, voters in Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure S, a renewal of Valley Water’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.
The program was first passed by voters in 2000 as the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, then again in 2012 as the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The renewal of the Safe, Clean Water Program will continue to provide approximately $47 million annually for local projects that deliver safe, clean water, natural flood protection, and environmental stewardship to all the communities we serve in Santa Clara County.
While evaluating ways to improve the 2012 program, Valley Water gathered feedback from more than 21,000 community members. That helped Valley Water create the six priorities for the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program, which are:
Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
Priority C: Protect our Water Supply and Dams from Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools, Streets and Highways
Priority F: Support Public Health and Public Safety for Our Community
Each year, Valley Water prepares a report providing a progress update for each of these program priorities, along with fiscal year accomplishments.
To ensure transparency and accountability to the voters, the ballot measure also created an Independent Monitoring Committee, appointed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. The Independent Monitoring Committee annually reviews the program’s progress to ensure the outcomes are achieved in a cost-efficient manner and reports its findings to the Board. Additionally, the IMC also reviews each proposed 5-year implementation plan prior to its submittal for Board approval.
In addition, the program requires three independent audits.