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October 21, 2011 > History of water at Alviso Educational Center

History of water at Alviso Educational Center

By Director Richard Santos, Santa Clara Valley Water District

On Sept. 16, the Santa Clara Valley Water District held a grand opening ceremony for the Alviso Educational Center. Located seven miles northwest of downtown San Jose, the center is a half-acre area built on property owned by the State Lands Commission that offers educational opportunities for visitors young and old.

The water district first began exploring the building of an educational center in 2002 as an environmental enhancement opportunity with the Lower Guadalupe River Flood Protection Project (LGRP). The LGRP, constructed by the water district between April 2003 and December 2004, increased the river's capacity to convey storm water runoff up to a 1 percent (100-year) flood event. In addition to improving flood protection, the project's purpose included protecting endangered species, preserving fish and migratory bird habitat, and allowing for open-space recreation. As part of the LGRP project, staff identified and presented to the Board several environmental enhancement opportunities, including developing the Alviso Educational Center.

The water district board believes it's never too early for children to begin understanding and appreciating their local water resources. To help promote that awareness, the district offers a full range of educational programs for both teachers and students, including our new High School Youth Commission. The water district's award-winning school program reaches thousands of young people each year with educational, interactive lessons on every water topic imaginable. In addition to classroom presentations, students can visit our educational centers, tour a groundwater recharge facility or explore the plant and animal life in a creek.

In keeping with their strong emphasis on the importance of education, the board approved the project in 2003, with the goal of highlighting the history of water in Alviso, including its close association with the Guadalupe River and South San Francisco Bay and its link to recreation trails in the vicinity of the site.

The center is one of three water district educational centers. The Morely Park Outdoor Classroom opened in 2000 and the Coyote Creek Outdoor Classroom opened in 2001.

County schools can use these centers as tools in environmental education and historical interpretation. Throughout the Alviso Educational Center students and visitors will find educational stations on groundwater, weather, enviroscape, wetlands and Alviso history.

As a lifelong Alviso resident, I am proud to see our story being shared with community. Water has always been integral to life in Alviso. From the history of our thriving port to devastating floods, water has and will continue to impact our lives. It's my hope that you will come and visit the Alviso Educational Center and learn more about the rich history of this small community on the bay.

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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