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January 14, 2009 > Valley Water in 2008: a year in review

Valley Water in 2008: a year in review

For Valley Water, 2008 represented a year of challenge, progress and achievement. With the goal of helping Santa Clara County residents, business owners and the environment, this year was jam-packed with many important projects and our efforts resulted in some great achievements.

Listed below are a few noteworthy accomplishments that I would like to highlight from this past year.

Penitencia Water Treatment Plant

After nearly five years of hard work, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) has completed the renovation of the Penitencia Water Treatment Plant.

The two main goals of the renovation project were to install equipment that would convert the plant to using the ozonation process for water filtration, and to beautify the plant so that it would blend into its surrounding community. The end result, a more attractive treatment plant with better tasting water.

Giving Nature a Kick-start

Valley Water's Pajaro Basin Freshwater Wetland project helped to restore nine-acres of valuable wetland habitat south of Gilroy.

The project improved the already favorable natural features of the site by re-contouring the land, increasing natural water availability and planting over 30,000 new plants suitable to the native vegetation.

Partnership to Improve Flood Protection and Pedestrian Pathways

The Bollinger Road Bridge reconstruction project aided nearby Cupertino and San Jose neighborhoods by adding needed flood protection, as well as creating a safer full-sized pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane. Drivers also now enjoy a larger roadway on the bridge over Calaveras Creek, which was widened by 21 feet.

The project was a joint effort between the City of Cupertino and Valley Water. The partnership helped in reducing overall costs and minimized construction impacts of the project.

Lenihan Dam Project at Lexington Reservoir

This past winter, Valley Water replaced an aging outlet system at Lenihan Dam. The new outlet system allows Valley Water to discharge water from the reservoir into Los Gatos Creek and a series of groundwater recharge ponds downstream.

The project is on schedule and budget and is nearing completion with a scheduled completion date of fall 2009.

Boating Inspection Program: Protecting Water Supply While Supporting Recreation

In early 2008, Valley Water took aggressive steps to determine whether an invasive and problematic species of zebra and quagga mussels had infiltrated any of its reservoirs, creeks or other water delivery systems.

The discovery of zebra mussels in San Justo Reservoir precipitated the need to implement a boating inspection program in May.

So far, the inspection program has successfully prevented the mussels from intruding into county waterways. To ensure local drinking water supply is protected, the boating inspection programs will continue indefinitely.

Solving the State's Water Woes: the Drought + Delta pumping restrictions = Conservation

California is in a drought. Now facing our third dry year in a row and a below normal snowpack, which accounts for 50 percent of our water, meeting the demand for homes and businesses is becoming more challenging.

Compounding the problem is the crisis facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta delivers water from the Sierra snowpack to about 23 million Californians, but due to court-ordered restrictions on pumping from the Delta, the amount of water we receive has already been cut by 30 percent.

Although, thanks to our ongoing investments in our water system infrastructure and diverse portfolio of water sources, we've avoided a call for mandatory restriction, conservation is still the key. Valley Water continues to urge county residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 10 percent.


In December, Valley Water was one of five organizations and the only governmental agency chosen to be honored in the "Best Overall" category from California's energy efficiency outreach campaign, "Flex Your Power."

Valley Water helped save over 19.5 billion gallons of water through its programs during the last fiscal year. These programs include technical and financial assistance in the residential, commercial, landscape, and agricultural sectors of Santa Clara County.

We continue to offer programs that enable county residents and businesses to take part in the countywide effort to conserve our most precious natural resource.

Moving Forward

As we enter 2009, we're looking forward to another exciting year of innovative projects that will enhance our quality of life and provide excellent flood protection and water supply services to our community. We will also be faced with some challenging decisions during a time when both water and money are scarce. We recognize that we must continue to be the dynamic, adaptable agency that we've 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.

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.

Director Richard Santos
Santa Clara Valley Water District

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