Good Morning. Thank you for the invitation to join you.Today, I want to talk with you about how, for more than 80 years, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has worked to: Provide the residents and businesses in Santa Clara County clean, reliable water Keep floodwaters out of our living rooms and businesses, and Protect and restore the habitat of the stream systems for our enjoyment. It is important that the community understand what we do and how we do it, because our water resources affect all of us in Santa Clara County. And while water is probably the most critical resource we have, it often goes without thinking that a complex system is required to deliver it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District originated in the early 20th century when increased farming irrigation from local wells resulted in lower groundwater levels for the first time. As agricultural acreage and water use increased, water levels dropped and sections of the valley floor actually began to sink or “subside”.Concerned about subsidence and wells drying up, farmers and business leaders pushed for the formation of the Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation District in 1929, and formulated an innovative plan to build reservoirs to capture rainwater and percolate it into the aquifers through percolation ponds you see along rivers, creeks and streams throughout the county. Over the years, the District has evolved as a comprehensive water resource management agency in order to meet the growing and increasingly complex needs of the residents and businesses in the county.
The water district is one of a very few water agencies that manage both water supply and flood protection, while also serving as a steward of our watersheds. This comprehensive and integrated approach is advantageous because it allows us to plan for and manage projects in a way that achieves multiple benefits. For example, we can consider the environment and habitat, as well as flood risks, when we are managing the water supply stored in our reservoirs and determining how much water to discharge to creeks and streams.
The Water District serves nearly 2 million residents and commuters to Santa Clara County. We provide wholesale drinking water, as well as groundwater management, flood protection and stream stewardship services, throughout Santa Clara County. We provide wholesale water to 12 local water retailers, who use our groundwater basins, along with other sources, to deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in the county’s 15 cities and unincorporated areas. We also serve 4,700 well owners.
Our water infrastructure includes … 10dams and surface water reservoirs, which not only store water, but also help provide flood protection, environmental water flows to creeks and recreational benefits. Of the 10 dams, Anderson Dam is the largest dam with a capacity of more than 90,000 acre-feet.3drinking water treatment plants – Santa Teresa in south San Jose, Penitencia in east San Jose and Rinconada in Los Gatos1 advanced water purification center under construction and is planned for opening in March 20133 pumping plants (own or operate) – Coyote and Vasona (own and operate) and Pacheco Pumping Plant 1 state-of-the-art water quality laboratory140miles of large transmission pipelines275miles of streams 400acres of groundwater recharge ponds
This graph tells the story of why the Water District was formed and how we manage a water system that adjusts to meet the rising population and changing needs of our region. The blue line is the groundwater elevation, the green line shows the population growth, while the orange line reflects the ground elevation. You will notice that in 1920s, the groundwater dropped as the economy and the population grew in response to a nationwide growing demand for agriculture produce.The groundwater decline was briefly halted with the construction of reservoirs to capture more local water and recharge the groundwater. However, after WWII, the county experienced explosive post-war growth, and that combined with a major drought from 1940-46, put a severe strain on the local water resources.In 1965, the State began delivering water from the Delta to Santa Clara County. By 1969, the combination of imported water supplies and careful groundwater management efforts halted more than 40 years of land subsidence.However, if we lose a significant portion of our imported supplies, demands on the groundwater basin will increase and our ability to recharge it will decrease. This may mean a return of land subsidence, infrastructure impacts, and even sea water intrusion.
To meet the needs of our region, we also rely heavily rely on imported water for 55 percent of our water supply. When the Sierra Nevada snow pack begins to melt, it travels through a complex infrastructure of massive engineered canals and pumping stations through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and is then imported to Santa Clara County. Imported water is delivered to us from both the state and federal water infrastructure projects as well as from San Francisco’s HetchHetchy system.You may have heard in the news that the Delta ecosystem is stressed because of pollution, invasive fish species, and loss of habitat. And the levees, pipelines and canals that deliver the water are threatened by natural disasters like earthquakes and sea level rise due to climate change. If we were to lose a significant portion of our imported supplies, there would be significant consequences to our region. In addition, demands on the groundwater basin would increase and our ability to recharge would certainly be diminished and could result in a return of land subsidence, infrastructure impacts, and even sea water intrusion. With Delta supplies so crucial to our water reliability, the District is currently working with state, federal, and local water agencies and other interested stakeholders on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. This collaborative statewide effort has bipartisan support and is aimed at finding solutions to ensure a reliable water supply and restore the ecological health of the Delta. It is not a plan to solve all of California’s water supply needs, but part of an overall State water plan to improve water management and reduce dependence on the Delta.The Public Review Draft BDCP and Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) are expected to be available for public review and comment by next month (subject to the duration of federal government shutdown).The District board plans to review and comment on the EIR/EIS when it is made available for formal public review. The final BDCP and environmental documents are expected to be released in May of 2014.Over the last one year, the district board has held several workshops better understand the issue and to help inform and engage the public on this important effort. The board will hold further workshops following the release of the draft. We are planning to 3 workshops in the coming months.
While imported water supplies are critical, we cannot depend on those to fill future gaps in water supply needs.In fact, our recently developed long-term water supply plan is projecting growing water demand and water supply shortfalls, especially several successive dry years. As a result, the District continues to aggressively pursue conservation, and the Santa Clara County has made great strides in saving water. In fact since the late 1980s, the county population has increased by 25%, while the water use has remained relatively flat.To help residents and businesses save water, we offer more than 20 incentive programs and services, such as:Landscape rebatesHigh-efficiency toilet and clothes washer rebatesOver the last 15 years, the District’s water conservation and recycling programs have saved over 2.7 billion kilowatts of energy, and reduced air pollution by volumes that are equal to removing 115,000 cars from the roads.(The average household water use is about 450 gallons per day, while the average water use per person stand between 100 to 125 gallons per day.)
Locally, we are continuing our efforts to reduce our reliance on the Delta. An increasingly important local source of water supply is recycled water.Recycled water is wastewater that has been purified through multiple levels of treatment. The quality of recycled water varies, but new technologies are purifying recycled water to cleaner and cleaner levels so that it can be used safely for any purpose. Currently, recycled water accounts for about 5% of our local water supply, used primarily for landscaping and industrial purposes.As Charles Fishman, the author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water notes “The water coming out of your kitchen tap is four billion years old and might well have been sipped by a Tyrannosaurus rex.” The water cycle tells us that he’s right. There is no new water. Although water goes through different phases (liquid, solid, and gas) the balance of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time.Recycled water use is expected to expand in the coming years. Currently, the District and the City of San José are constructing Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014.The high-quality purified water will be blended with recycled water from the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility and will help expand both industrial and landscape uses. We are hopeful that this advanced water purification facility will not only enhance the quality of recycled water, but also demonstrate proven technologies that are available to us locally to produce purified water for a variety of potential future uses – including using purified water to augment drinking water supplies.Advanced water treatment technologies are already being used successfully to produce clean, safe drinking water in California and in other parts of the world.
Safe, clean drinking water is our highest priority. In 2008, the Water District opened a new state-of-the-art water quality laboratory to meet increasing needs for water sampling and ever more rigorous testing. The lab performed 155,000 tests in 2012, that’s more than 420 samples being tested every day. We test water produced from each of our three water treatment plants, our reservoirs and our groundwater basin. Our treated water consistently meets or excels all applicable water quality regulatory standards. And these standards are becoming increasingly stringent as technology is developed to detect contaminants at very minute levels.
To protect people and property from flooding, the district has invested more than 1 billion dollars in flood protection programs. This includes both large-scale flood protection projects and the annual stream maintenance activities that District carries out every year to prepare local waterways to carry floodwaters away from homes and businesses. Since 1980s, the District has: Protected nearly 100,000 properties in previously flood-prone areas. Removed over 56,000 cubic yards of sediment removed to increase capacity of local streams and creeks Removed over 30,000 cubic yards of trash and debris from neighborhood creeks But we are not out of the woods as 66,000 parcels still remain flood prone. To extend protection to these parcels, the district plans to carry out 17 flood protection projects in the coming years.
Maintaining healthy streams is an essential component of our mission and is central to providing effective flood protection and water management. The district does this on its own as well as in partnership with local agencies, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders. Last month, the district announced that it would grant more than $2 million for watershed improvements, including pollution prevention and wildlife habitat restoration. The district also partners with cities on providing trails and open space access through joint use and joint trail agreements. We have added access to more than 70 miles of creek-side trails since 2001. In just over a decade, the grant program and these partnerships, combined with other public and private funding, have helped fund 92 projects totaling over $16.7 million. Meanwhile, the district continues to protect habitat and natural resources, and reduce toxins, contaminants and trash from our waterways. Since 2000, we have constructed or restored nearly 570 acres of fish and wildlife habitat; and have removed 4,200 pounds of mercury from local streams and the bay. Photo: The picture on top left shows the opening of tidal gates connecting form salt Pond A8 to the tidal waters of Alviso Slough (June 2011). The picture on the right is of the Coyote Parkway Freshwater Wetlands.
Just last week the district and 5 other public agencies launched the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan. This plan is a model for protecting threatened and endangered species while allowing for necessary development. It is a result of collaboration among federal, state and regional governments. One of the projects to benefit from this plan is the Anderson Dam retrofit project. Without this plan, the process to obtain permits needed to construct the Anderson Dam retrofit could have delayed the project. Instead, the water district will pay fees to compensate for any unavoidable environmental impacts of the project. These fees will support a long-term, coordinated program for habitat restoration and conservation throughout Santa Clara Valley.
The Anderson Dam project was one of the projects and programs that the county voters resoundingly approved with the passage of the year Safe, Clean Water special parcel tax in November last year. The 15-year program include programs to:Ensure a safe, reliable water supply for the futureReduce toxins, hazards and contaminants, such as mercury and pharmaceuticals, in our waterwaysProtect our water supply and local dams from the impacts of earthquakes and natural disastersRestore fish, bird and wildlife habitat and provide open space accessProvide flood protection to homes, businesses, schools, streets and highways
Adapting to climate change, such as sea-level rise, is another important element of preparing for the future. Santa Clara County’s shoreline is at great risk from flooding now due to extreme storm events combined with high tides, and in the future due to sea level rise. Many high-tech companies, such as Intel, Google, Yahoo and Cisco, are located along the shoreline at risk of flooding. The Department of Water Resources, in their Flood Futures Report, has identified Santa Clara County, along with LA and Orange Counties, as having the highest potential damages from flooding in the state. So, how is the district responding to this issue of sea-level rise? We have a wide array of strategies to address the impacts and these include:Improve understanding of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources including flood risks.Consider sea-level rise and the tidal influence in the District’s flood projects, and incorporate understanding of new hydrology and sea level rise into project management and planning. Create environments that enhance and benefit streams and tidal settings, such as additional riparian planting and preserving open space. Maintain or enhance ecosystem function where appropriate and feasible; conduct riparian and tidal restoration or enhancements that provide benefits to wetlands, habitat and species. And monitor and manage enhancements through adaptive management practices.Engage in regional collaboration adaptation planning, including Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, Silicon Valley 2.0 led by Office of Sustainability, Santa Clara County, Joint Venture Public Sector Climate Change Taskforce; Sustainable Silicon Valley
But what kind of value is the community receiving for fresh, clean water?How much is a gallon of gas these days? (over$4.00).What about a gallon of bottled water from the store? (3.84 to $8.96 a gallon.) And more than just the cost, the quality claims of bottled water are often misleading and we have plastic waste littering our roads and streams.In Santa Clara County, on average, a gallon of tap water costs half a cent.It is a true bargain considering the large infrastructure, the energy and expertise it take to treat and provide safe and clean water 24 hours a day. When compared with the cost of other products we use every day, tap water is clearly one of the best deals around. And you can’t make any of these other things without using water. Did you know that it takes:-20 gallons of water to produce 1 glass of beer?-53 gallons to produce 1 glass of milk?-And 2900 gallons of water to produce 1 pair of blue jeans??
So, thank you again for having me here today.If you want to be kept informed about future special events– like tours and open houses-- please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to our email list.
Providing safe, clean water
for Santa Clara County
Beau Goldie, CEO
County Planning Commissioners Conference
Oct. 11, 2013
1929 established Water District
1968 merged Flood & Water Supply
1999 integrated Stream Stewardship
An integrated approach
Safe, reliable water
Healthy creeks and
Who we serve
12 water retailers
4,700 direct well owners
10 dams and surface water reservoirs
3 drinking water treatment plants
1 advanced water purification center under
3 pumping plants (own or operate)
1 state-of-the-art water quality laboratory
140 miles of large transmission pipelines
275 miles of streams
400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds
State-of-the-art water quality monitoring
samples tested in
Protecting people and property
Protected nearly 100,000 parcels;
17 projects to protect 66,000 more
Preserving habitat, creating trails
Nearly 570 acres wildlife habitat created or restored
Setting the standard for habitat preservation
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Preparing for the future
• Ensure a safe, reliable
• Reduce toxins, hazards
and contaminants in
• Protect water supply
from earthquakes &
• Provide flood protection
• Restore wildlife habitat;
provide open space
Planning for the effects of sea-level rise
of climate change
impacts on water
Consider sea-level rise
and the tidal influence in
flood protection projects
that enhance & benefit
streams and tidal settings
Support regional climate
Tap water – the best value for money
A Gallon of TAP WATER
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Providing safe, clean water
for Santa Clara County
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