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January 13, 2010 > Santa Clara County Water District 2009: a year in review

Santa Clara County Water District 2009: a year in review

By Richard Santos, Santa Clara Valley District

2009 had its peaks and valleys. The Santa Clara Valley Water District faced unprecedented financial challenges but thanks to staff reductions, cutbacks, re-prioritizations and consolidations we avoided layoffs. Besides fiscal challenges in 2009, the District faced a third year of drought and water supply restrictions. As a board member for the District I am proud to say that we fulfill our mission in spite of the challenges. Below are some of the major accomplishments of the past year.

District board calls for 15 percent mandatory conservation - community responds with 18.5 percent water savings.

On March 24, 2009, the District's board of directors unanimously passed a resolution declaring a water shortage alert and calling upon the cities, the county and water retailers to immediately activate their drought ordinances and enforce a mandatory 15 percent reduction in water use.

In May, the District launched a new water conservation campaign urging every individual to save 20 gallons daily through small actions that can result in big savings. Santa Clara County residents achieved an 18.5 percent reduction in water use. While we are happy with these results, the need for conservation is not over. So, in December 2009, the board of directors called for an extension of the 15 percent mandatory conservation through June 2010. The District will continue to deliver the message that if everyone saves 20 gallons a day, we can make a difference.

Stimulus funds help District projects and bring jobs to the valley:

On July 29, 2009, five of the District's "shovel ready" projects received $44.1M under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

These projects improve flood protection, transportation and water treatment facilities and bring jobs to the valley. Jobs would be created for construction crews, engineers, electricians, tractor operators, truck drivers, cement finishers and many others. The District will also need to purchase major supplies such as pipelines and steel.

District staff is in the process of developing and implementing plans to begin construction.


On September 25, 2009, the District accepted two awards from the San Francisco Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a professional organization representing more than 146,000 civil engineers. The Lenihan Dam Outlet Modifications Project and the Pajaro Basin Freshwater Wetland Project each received "Project of the Year" awards in their respective categories; the latter in the "Environmental" category and the former in the "Large Projects" category.

Assembly Bill 466 passes:

On October 11, 2009 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill (AB) 466 into law. State Assembly Member Joe Coto introduced AB 466 to amend the Santa Clara Valley Water District Act in early 2009. Among the amendments, AB 466 replaces the current Board of Director's structure. The new structure requires all seven board members be elected from new districts that will be drawn through a formal redistricting process. That process must be completed by June 30, 2010.

Lenihan Dam Project at Lexington Reservoir completed on time and under budget
On October 20, 2009 the District celebrated the completion of construction of the Lenihan Dam Outlet Modifications Project with a First Flow Ceremony. The project replaces an aging outlet system at Lenihan Dam. The new outlet system allows the District to discharge water from the reservoir into Los Gatos Creek and a series of groundwater recharge ponds downstream.

The project was completed on schedule and under budget with a total project cost of approximately $50M.

Governor chooses District as site to sign historic conservation bill:

On November 10, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a press conference at the District's headquarters to discuss the importance of statewide water conservation and to sign into law Senate Bill No. 7. The bill requires that urban water agencies reduce water consumption by 20 percent by 2020 and requires the development of agricultural water management plans.

Moving Forward:

As we enter 2010, we recognize we must continue to be the dynamic, adaptable agency that we have always been. Prepared to change with the times, yet steadfast in moving forward with continued efforts that will help us better serve the county, fulfill our responsibilities and reach our goals. I will continue to be accessible to the public and to work positively with the county and cities.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for Sunnyvale, Alviso, Milpitas, Berryessa/Alum Rock communities, east of Highway 101 to the Evergreen community area. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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