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October 9, 2012 > Santa Clara Valley Water District

Santa Clara Valley Water District

Measure B would fund safe, clean water and natural flood protection program

By Richard Santos

On July 24, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors voted unanimously to place the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program on the November Ballot; it has been designated Measure B. The water district created the program to address important water supply, flood protection and watershed stewardship needs of the county. Developed with input from more than 16,000 residents and stakeholders, this 15-year program would continue an existing, expiring parcel tax (Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan) without increasing the rate.

In response to community priorities, the Safe, Clean Water program continues the priorities identified in the Clean, Safe Creeks Plan, and adds critical water supply and conservation projects. While contributing a portion of the funds for water supply projects and programs, ratepayers will still be contributing the majority of funding for water supply projects and water storage, treatment and delivery infrastructure improvements.

Long-term priorities of the program are to ensure a safe, reliable water supply for the future; reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants, such as mercury and pharmaceuticals, in our waterways; protect our water supply and local dams from the impacts of earthquakes and natural disasters; restore fish, bird and wildlife habitat and provide open space access; and provide flood protection to homes, businesses, schools, streets and highways.

Among the many projects, the program would fund upgrades to drinking water pipelines, assistance for well users that have excess nitrate in their water, pollution prevention and trash removal from creeks, required seismic retrofits at Anderson Dam, removal of invasive species, and completion of the Upper Guadalupe River Flood Protection Project.

In recent years, funding from the state and federal governments has declined and become less reliable. Other district revenues are inadequate to fully fund programs that help ensure a safe, reliable water supply for the future, while also providing the other projects and programs to meet long-term water resource needs.

Since the passage of Clean, Safe Creeks in 2000, voter-approved local funding has been used to meet the area's need for clean, safe creeks and waterways. This funding, which can't be taken away by the state or federal government, is set to expire in 2016 if voters do not renew it.

If Measure B is approved by the voters, tax rates would not increase but rather would continue the current rate structure provided for under the existing Clean, Safe Creeks Plan. If approved, in 2014, which would be the first year of the measure, the parcel tax for a single family residential home would be $55.84.

The program would exempt low-income senior citizens from the special parcel tax, require all expenditures to be published annually, require external oversight by an independent monitoring committee, and require at least two professional audits during the life of the program.

To learn more about Measure B, the water district's Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, visit www.safecleanwater.org or contact Luis Jaimes, at (408) 630-2576 or via email at ljaimes@valleywater.org.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara; Alviso; Milpitas; and the north San Jose and Berryessa communities. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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