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December 18, 2012 > Santos Column

Santos Column

Your environmental stewards at work

By incorporating habitat restoration, enhancement and preservation of natural stream functions into our capital projects, the district has been able to make steady progress and see a cumulative positive difference over time. Since 2000, the district has purchased approximately 1,750 acres to preserve tidal and fresh water habitat lands. In addition, the district has replanted more than 350 acres of riparian habitat and maintains native stream corridors. Twenty two fish passage barriers have been improved and in stream habitat features have been installed to improve fish habitat.

Since individual actions have such a large impact on the health of our watersheds, and 70 percent of the streams are owned by private parties and public agencies other than the district, we offer incentives, education and training to promote behavior that spurs environmental stewardship. The district also leverages the capacity of the community through our grant program, which helps to fund restoration work done by others.

In addition to the incentive programs offered, such as the landscape rebate program, the district has developed an educational program to assist the public in understanding the benefits of a sustainable landscape. This program targets homeowners, businesses and the green industry professionals that serve them. This multi element approach can provide assistance at all points in the decision making process: during the design, purchase of material, and upkeep and maintenance on existing landscapes. Because these landscapes need little or no irrigation, they reduce future water use.

The district also collaborates and forms partnerships with other public and non-profit agencies to achieve its goals. Three significant collaborations illustrate the district's leadership role: developing reliability and restoration options for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta; constructing the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center; and, the plastic bag ban. Each of these plays an important role in the ongoing environmental stewardship for the Silicon Valley.

"Environmental stewardship requires a long term vision combined with pragmatic implementation of individual projects and knowledge of the way communities interact with watersheds. The district board is a leader in combining the two," said Water District Deputy Operating Officer Ann Draper.

Santa Clara County creeks and streams provide habitat for numerous aquatic species. Good surface water quality is essential for healthy streams. When water from those creeks and streams flow into the Bay, it also influences the quality of the Bay and ocean. Every person and every business has responsibilities and opportunities to help improve and preserve water quality.

To learn more about what you can do to make a difference in your community or for more information on how the water district works to protect the environment, you can download our 2012 Stewardship Report at

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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