Voters overwhelmingly approve Measure S, a renewal of 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 (Safe, Clean Water Program) that was approved in 2012. The measure needed 66.67% to pass and garnered more than 75% of votes at the November 2020 election. The renewed Safe, Clean Water Program identifies six key community priorities, established in collaboration with tens of thousands of residents and stakeholders. Details on the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program can be found in the Renewed Safe, Clean Water program document. The renewed Safe, Clean Water program will become effective in Fiscal Year 2021-2022 (FY22), starting on July 1, 2021, following the conclusion of the current program in FY21. On June 8, 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors approved the 5-Year Implementation Plan (FY22-26).
About the 2012 Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program
In November 2012 the voters of Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure B, the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, as a countywide special parcel tax for 15 years with a sunset date of June 30, 2028. This program replaced the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, which voters approved in November 2000.
The Safe, Clean Water Program was developed with input from more than 16,000 residents and stakeholders and was created to match the community’s needs and values. The voters of Santa Clara County identified five priorities:
- Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
- Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
- Priority C: Protect our Water Supply from Earthquakes and Natural Disasters
- Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
- Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools and Highways
- Other: Six projects from the Clean, Safe, Creeks Plan have been carried forward into the Safe, Clean Water Program.
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.
In addition, the program requires three independent audits, the first of which was conducted in FY 2017.
How important is safe, clean water and natural flood protection to you?
We all know our community is contending with new challenges such as emergencies, natural disasters, climate change, population growth, and uncertain imported water supplies. To better address these issues, we are exploring the opportunity to renew and update the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, which currently has a sunset date of 2028.
Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
Projects under Priority A will upgrade aging water transmission systems to increase pipeline capacity and reduce the risk of water outages. The priority also provides grants to develop future conservation programs, helps local schools fulfill state mandates for drinking water availability, and provides rebates on nitrate removal systems to improve water quality and safety for private well users.
Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
Projects under Priority B use multiple strategies to reduce and remove contaminants in our local creeks, streams and bay. In addition to mercury treatment systems in our reservoirs, projects under this priority also prevent toxins from entering waterways by working with municipalities and other agencies to reduce runoff pollution. The District also provides grants to reduce emerging contaminants and supports public education and volunteer cleanup efforts. Additional projects include coordinated cleanup of encampments near waterways, trash and graffiti removal, and rapid emergency response to hazardous materials spills.
Priority C: Protect our Water Supply from Earthquakes and Natural Disasters
Projects under Priority C include retrofitting to protect our water supply infrastructure from the impacts of natural disasters, like earthquakes. It also includes emergency flood response enhancements to improve communication between responders and help reduce damages from floods.
Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
The 8 projects under Priority D restore and protect wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for increased access to trails and open space. Funding for this priority pays for control of non-native, invasive plants, revegetation of native species, and maintenance of previously revegetated areas. Other projects include removal of fish barriers, improvement of steelhead habitat and stabilization of eroded creek banks.
To support these and future restoration projects the District will create a comprehensive, updated database on stream conditions countywide. The District and other agencies can then use the new information to make informed decisions on where and how to use restoration dollars so they have the greatest value for wildlife.
Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools and Highways
Flood protection measures under Priority E include capital construction projects, studies of flood prone areas, maintenance of existing flood protection channels and improvements to emergency planning for flood response.
Flood protection capital projects are prioritized to protect the largest number of people, homes and businesses, as well as safeguard the highways, streets, public transportation and business centers that people depend on for their livelihoods. All the construction projects under Priority E are undertaken in partnership with the federal government, and will require federal funding in addition to local funding to complete the preferred scope. Should federal funding become scarce, a reduced scope would be implemented, as described in the individual project summaries.
Whenever possible, the District also leverages funds from the state, local municipalities and other stakeholders.
Other Capital Flood Protection Projects and Clean, Safe Creeks Grants Projects
Six projects from the Clean, Safe, Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan have been carried forward into the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.
Permanente Creek Flood Protection
San Francisco Bay to Foothill Expressway - Mountain View
Sunnyvale East and Sunnyvale West Channels Flood Protection
San Francisco Bay to Inverness Way and Almanor Avenue - Sunnyvale
Berryessa Creek Flood Protection
Calaveras Boulevard to Interstate 680 - Milpitas and San Jose
Coyote Creek Flood Protection
Montague Expressway to Interstate 280 - San Jose
Calabazas Creek Flood Protection
Miller Avenue to Wardell Road - Sunnyvale