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January 10, 2012 > Despite continued efforts, flood risks still exist

Despite continued efforts, flood risks still exist

By Richard Santos, Santa Clara Valley Water District

With the bone dry December we've experienced, it may have slipped our collective consciousness that we have entered the flood season. If flooding doesn't happen this year, we can be sure we'll experience flooding again in some future year. That's why the Santa Clara Valley Water District maintains its focus on preventing flooding in wet years and dry ones, all year long and helping residents prepare for the worst.

This past summer, district crews repaired banks and removed accumulated sediment from creeks all over the county. In the last year, we completed 31 projects as part of our Stream Maintenance Program, preserving the ability of our local creeks to carry high flows. Crews removed 39,218 cubic yards of sediment and repaired 1,975 feet of creek banks.

Yet, more than 65,000 parcels remain at risk of flooding in a 100-year storm event. The district is making progress in reducing this number. Currently, major construction is underway on the Guadalupe River upstream of I-280 and on Lower Silver Creek between I-680 and Lake Cunningham Park.

The Guadalupe River project continues the work that was completed to protect downtown San Josˇ in 2005. Ultimately, the project will continue south to Blossom Hill Road, protecting 7,500 properties. Unfortunately, the project is unlikely to be completed until additional federal funds are appropriated.

The Lower Silver Creek project was recently awarded $25 million from state Proposition 1E funds. Along with the $20.2 million the project has already been awarded from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the district is well on its way to complete the project, which will ultimately protect 3,800 parcels from flooding.

Such a major undertaking can be a significant inconvenience to the residents who live closest to the construction site. Traffic is sometimes affected by lane closures. The district strives to minimize these disturbances, and to keep residents informed.

In a recent survey of neighbors of the Lower Silver Creek project, most respondents agree that we have been communicating well and have met their expectations. Here's one comment we received:

"From my perspective, this seems to be a well thought and well run project. I have been informed at every step. Other city agencies can benefit from your efforts. Thank you!"

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Every year, floods take many lives and cause billions of dollars in property damage. In addition to our work to reduce the chances of flooding, we want to help you to be prepared before, during and after a flood.

Before a flood, prepare a family disaster plan and make an emergency kit for your home and for your car. Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect your property. During a flood, move to higher ground, and do not walk or drive through flood waters. After a flood, watch for hidden hazards and return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

When you observe potential flooding or obstructions of waterways, please be our ears and eyes and call us at 408-265-2600.

Visit our website at www.valleywater.org for more flood safety tips, and be prepared!

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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