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September 17, 2013 > Grants available for watershed improvements

Grants available for watershed improvements

By Director Richard P. Santos

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is wasting no time in implementing the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program approved by voters last November. On Aug. 27, the district board authorized the allocation of more than $2 million to fund grant projects.

We are eager to partner with community groups and other governmental entities to implement projects that will improve the health of our local watersheds. In mid-September, the district will release a request for proposals to invite local organizations to apply for grants for projects in three categories: pollution prevention, volunteer cleanup efforts and education, and restoration of wildlife habitat.

For this round of funding, the board has chosen priority themes for each of the three categories, based on input we received from community members.

The three priority themes in the pollution prevention category are to increase the permeability of urban areas-which reduces runoff into streams, to increase trash free areas around creeks and to prevent medications and other pollutants from entering our waterways.

The priority themes for volunteer cleanup efforts and education category are education and outreach related to the three pollution prevention themes.

The grants for restoring wildlife habitat will focus on four priority themes: to restore and protect riparian corridors, to protect or improve habitat of special status species, to restore tidal habitat, and to emphasize projects with ecosystem/watershed-scale benefits.

Cities, the county, open space districts, non-profit organizations and schools are all encouraged to submit project proposals. Details on the priority themes and the application process will be posted on our website at on Sept. 16, 2013. Proposals will be due on Nov. 22.

This grant cycle is just the first of many to come. During the 15-year life of Safe, Clean Water, we expect to distribute nearly $35 million in grants, partnerships and rebate programs. Every year, one grant program or another will be available, including future grant cycles that will prioritize access to new trails.

Later this year, we will ask for grant proposals to fund projects that will pilot test new water conservation programs. This grant program will help us meet our goal to nearly double water conservation by 2030.

Also, the water district is joining with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and FIRST 5 Santa Clara County to provide grants to schools to install new drinking water dispensers to ensure that kids have access to free, fresh and healthful drinking water.

This round of grants follows several grant cycles over the past 13 years. The district's grants and partnerships program, combined with other public and private funding, has helped fund 92 projects totaling more than $16.7 million since 2000. The program has opened more than 70 miles of trails and created or restored more than 569 acres of habitat.

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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