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August 16, 2011 > Eroding creek banks could lead to flooding:

Eroding creek banks could lead to flooding:

Early next month the Santa Clara Valley Water District will repair an eroding creek bank along Lower Penitencia Creek at Great Mall Parkway and South Abel Street. This project will repair 83 feet of creek bank to minimize erosion. Securing the creek bank protects homes, sound walls and property along the creek. It also minimizes sediment build-up, improving the creek's capacity to carry floodwaters, while maintaining a stable creek ecosystem.

This project is part of the water district's Stream Maintenance Program (SMP), which receives significant funding from the voter-approved Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection special parcel tax.

Each year from June to October is considered SMP season at the water district. During this time, crews descend on creeks and waterways to perform much needed maintenance. They remove sediment and soil washed down from the hills into valley floor streams, non-native vegetation that can restrict flood flows and crowd out native plants, and they shore up creek banks damaged or eroded by high water during the winter. The SMP ensures that creeks are ready for winter rains and that wildlife habitats are protected.

The SMP, now in its tenth year, is actually a year-round effort. Throughout the year staff maintains a list of jobs for each summer. Because the district is responsible for maintaining 278 miles of streams countywide, this work list must be prioritized. Locations most in need of maintenance work are placed at the top of the list and are usually the first to be tackled during the SMP season.

District staff works hard to streamline each job by coordinating resources. This approach not only avoids delays, it makes efficient use of taxpayer funds. This year, the water district plans to remove more than 57,000 cubic yards of sediment, manage vegetation on 185 miles of waterways and protect the banks of 1.14 miles of creeks.

Major types of routine stream maintenance are levee and bank repair, sediment removal and vegetation management. In addition, the water district also performs minor maintenance on the county's waterways; including trash removal, fence and access repair, maintenance of re-vegetation sites, preserving trees for healthy watersheds, and managing watershed vegetation.

If you have observed a problem in any creek in our service area, you can report to our "Access Valley Water" online customer request and information system. This is the best way to alert our field crews of downed branches, eroding banks, trash, graffiti or overgrown vegetation.

If you want more information about a particular project, the neighborhood notice is the place to find it. To find out if there are any stream maintenance projects in your neighborhood, check here for an online list with links to the notices. The district will mail notices to residents and businesses who benefit from project work and who also may be affected by project activities.

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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