Opinion: EPA funding will help Valley Water better serve community

Opinion: EPA funding will help Valley Water better serve community

Valley Water is responsible for providing safe, clean water, flood protection and environmental stewardship to Santa Clara County. We are currently working on dozens of projects to help us meet this mission for the communities we serve.

However, we can’t carry this out alone.

Our agency continues to seek out investment partners, including the state and federal government, to help us complete these projects and reduce the cost to ratepayers. Pursuing and securing state and federal funding is the key to completing projects that support a reliable water supply, flood protection and stewardship of creeks and streams.

Earlier this summer, Valley Water was awarded $6.8 million in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help fund two projects for our communities.

One of the EPA grants provides $3 million to help fund cleanups of nine creeks in Santa Clara County. This funding will support work to rehabilitate a bank along Coyote Creek impacted by an encampment-related excavation. It will also help fund the removal of trash in Coyote Creek and allow us to undertake an enhanced cleanup initiative by removing trash, debris and hazardous pollutants generated by encampments along these heavily impacted waterways: Berryessa, Coyote, Guadalupe, Los Gatos, Lower Silver, Saratoga, Thompson and West Branch Llagas creeks and the Guadalupe River.

Our agency started these cleanup efforts on July 1 in collaboration with partner agencies. The work will be completed in 2027.

This grant will help provide funding for 32 portable toilet facilities on Valley Water properties for public use to reduce biowaste entering waterways and improve water quality.

The second EPA grant that we secured was for $3.8 million for the Calabazas/San Tomas Aquino Creek-Marsh Connection project.

Located in Santa Clara County where Alviso and Guadalupe Sloughs connect to South San Francisco Bay, this project seeks to restore approximately 1,800 acres of tidal marsh, enhance 50 acres of fresh and brackish marsh habitat and improve over 4 miles of riverine habitat in South San Francisco Bay.

The Calabazas and San Tomas Aquino creeks will be reconnected to the former salt ponds, supplying sediment to raise sunken pond bottoms to support establishment of tidal marsh. These creeks drain from south to north toward San Francisco Bay. Currently, the creeks make a hard left as they approach the ponds. These are unnatural 90-degree turns. One of the best things we can do to create a shoreline resilient to climate change is reconnect creeks to the bay.

It’s critical that we continue to partner with all levels of government on projects that benefit all communities. By working together, we can move our projects and programs forward. Collaboration will bring the community better service, better projects and a better use of the public’s funds.

Richard P. Santos is Valley Water’s District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, as well as Alviso, Milpitas and the north San Jose and Berryessa communities. Contact him at 408-234-7707.