Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | June 22, 2020

Will SCVWD reallocate special funding for creek restoration?

Santa Clara Valley Water District is proposing to reauthorize the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program parcel tax, although the existing parcel tax was authorized through 2028.  The draft 2020 parcel tax resolution will be considered at the June 23, 2020 Santa Clara Valley Water District Board meeting.

The draft 2020 resolution appears to eliminate an existing grant program that would provide $21 million for creek and wetland restoration, in favor of a multibenefit grant program with no specified level of funding.  It increases funding for seismic retrofit of Anderson Dam by $9 million, and provides $10 million for the Pacheco reservoir expansion.  It also increases funding for fish passage projects from $6 million to $8 million.

The tables in the Appendices to the Board’s draft 2020 resolution show the priorities for expenditure of funds.  Creek and wetland restoration is under Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space Access.

The 2020 resolution eliminates this priority category in the 2012 resolution:

D3 Partnerships and Grants to Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Access to Trails

  1. Develop 5 Stream Corridor Priority Plans to prioritize stream restoration activities.
  2. Provide 7 grant cycles and additional partnerships for $21 million that follow preestablished criteria related to the creation or restoration of wetlands, riparian habitat and favorable stream conditions for fisheries and wildlife, and providing new public access to trails.

The FY 2019 Annual Report for the parcel tax expenditures showed only 30% of the funds proposed for Priority D3 expended, for a total of  about $7.2 million, even though the program was halfway through its 15 year lifetime. (p. 74, pdf p. 92.)

Coyote_Creek_aerial

Coyote Creek where it flows into the south San Franciso Bay, with the Guadalupe River joining it, and the Guadalupe Slough entering just to the west.           Source:  Dicklyon / CC BY-SA

The Board’s draft 2020 resolution appears to reallocate the unexpended funds for Priority D3.   Section R of the resolution does provide for continuity of the District’s wetland and creek restoration efforts:

All other projects and programs identified in the prior Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program will be replaced by comparable projects or programs with similar or expanded obligations under the updated Safe, Clean Water and
Natural Flood Protection Program.

But is unclear from the draft 2020 resolution exactly how funds would be provided.  The draft 2020 resolution has a new multibenefit grant program, but no specified level of funding:

F9  Grants and Partnerships for Safe, Clean Water, Flood Protection and Environmental Stewardship

  1. Provide three (3) grant cycles every five (5) years that follow pre‐established competitive criteria related to safe, clean drinking water, flood protection and environmental stewardship.
  2. Provide two (2) partnership cycles every five (5) years for projects related to safe, clean drinking water, flood protection and environmental stewardship.
  3. Provide annual funding for bottle filling stations to increase drinking water accessibility, with priority for installations in economically disadvantaged communities and locations that serve school‐age children and students.
  4. Provide annual mini‐grant funding opportunity for projects related to safe, clean drinking water, flood protection and environmental stewardship.

The 2020 resolution does increase funding for Priority D4, Fish Habitat and Passage Improvement, by $2 million.

The 2012 bond resolution had a sunset date of 2028.  The new bond resolution only sunsets when ended by the voters. Both the new resolution and 2012 bond resolution contains language allow the Board to not implement proposed projects:

L. The Board of Directors may direct that proposed projects in the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program be modified or not implemented depending upon a number of factors, including federal and state funding limitations and the analysis and results of CEQA environmental review and permitting by state and federal regulatory agencies. The Board of Directors must hold a formal, public hearing on the matter, which will be noticed by publication and notification to interested parties, before adoption of any such decision to modify or not implement a project.

The new resolution also contains language allowing the Board to “identify and prioritize new projects for inclusion in the program.”

K. As projects under the Program are completed, the Board of Directors shall identify and prioritize new projects for inclusion in the Program. These new projects may be identified and proposed for Board approval at a public meeting through the Board’s review and approval of the Program’s 5-Year Implementation Plans, the first of which will be produced by the CEO or designee of Valley Water in year one of the Program and every five years thereafter; or, as directed by the Board.

 


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