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December 10, 2010 > Water Words

Water Words

We may not all live in a floodplain, but we are affected by floods

By Director Richard Santos, Santa Clara Valley Water District

Often people think that because they don't live in a flood-prone area, they don't need to consider flood safety. Not true. We forget that while we may not live in a floodplain, we may be driving through one as we go through our daily routine, be it on our way to work, a grocery store or a hospital. As result, we all need to know about flood safety.

With this goal, the water district recently launched a multi-media "Chicken Little" flood awareness campaign that alerts Santa Clara County residents to the risks of flooding and provides flood-safety tips.

The outreach campaign is part of the district's much larger countywide effort to protect Santa Clara County residents and businesses from the devastating effects of flooding. During the year, the water district undertakes major creek modification projects as well as smaller stream maintenance work to reduce the intensity and the frequency of flooding in the county.

One such project is the Lower Silver Creek project, which garnered national attention when the White House named it as one of the top 100 stimulus projects in the country. The partially completed project is receiving a total of $20.7 million in federal stimulus funds and will support an estimated 400 jobs. With these additional funds, the district will fully complete the section that stretches from Interstate 680 to South Babb Creek and part of the section that ends at Cunningham Park by December 2012.

In addition to the large capital projects, every year the district staff is out in the streams during summer and early fall clearing waterways, maintaining levees and repairing banks in preparation for the winter rains.

In 2010, the water district completed 43 stream maintenance projects, removing 20,820 cubic yards of sediment and repairing 2,299 linear feet of banks or levees. Some of the stream maintenance projects include: stream bank repairs at Upper Penitencia Creek (Pine Hollow) and Sierra Creek (upstream of Hostetter); and sediment removal at Upper Penitencia Creek (south of Mabury), Los Coches (downstream of I-680), and Calera Creek (upstream I-680.)

Besides reducing the risk of flooding, the district's efforts also save county residents money on their annual flood insurance premiums.

In October this year, the district completed its 2010 recertification process for the National Flood Insurance Program's voluntary Community Rating System. Because of the district's flood risk reduction efforts, people in flood prone areas can get a 5 percent discount or more on flood insurance premiums.

As a lifelong resident of Alviso, I have experienced the havoc flooding can cause. That is why I encourage you to educate yourself about the risk of flooding and to be prepared. For flood-safety tips or to locate sandbag sites in your neighborhood, visit To get flood-safety updates and tips on your mobile phone, text the word "WATER" to 84444.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for Sunnyvale; Alviso; Milpitas; and the Berryessa/Alum Rock communities, east of Highway 101 to the Evergreen community area. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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