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March 12, 2013 > Santa Clara Valley Water District Report: Water District Offers Grant Opportunities

Santa Clara Valley Water District Report: Water District Offers Grant Opportunities

By Richard Santos

As a way of partnering with the community to extend our watershed stewardship mission, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has administered four grant programs since inception of the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection program in 2000, a voter-approved special parcel tax. The 2013 Comprehensive Grant Stewardship Program marks the fifth grant program, and the ninth grant cycle since 2003. The primary focus of the Grant Program is environmental enhancement/restoration, pollution prevention, and public access to trail and open space projects. Projects should be construction or implementation projects and not planning projects; meaning a tangible project or product should result by Project close out.

On Jan. 22, 2013, the district board of directors authorized funding for this 2013 grant cycle in the amount of $794,000. This reimbursement based program invites cities, the county of Santa Clara, open space districts, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and schools to submit project proposals for consideration by a review panel and approval by the district board of directors. A request for proposals was released on Feb. 19 with a grant application due date of April 8, 2013. The funds will be awarded by June of this year.

Since 2001, the district has awarded $16.4 million to 86 projects in its grant programs funded primarily by the Clean, Safe Creeks program. With over 594 acres of tidal and riparian habitat created or restored and over 70 miles of trails already opened for public access, the district's completion of and support for environmental enhancement and trail projects through the Clean, Safe Creeks program has surpassed the original established goals.

One of the more recent grant projects completed was the Tidal Marsh Ecotone Stewardship Project by Save The Bay, the largest community organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. The project focused on community-based restoration and native plant propagation at the Palo Alto Baylands. The purpose was to re-establish a tidal marsh upland transition zone to provide natural habitat for Bay wildlife and to create a buffer against sea level rise resulting from climate change. The district awarded $25,000 to the project.

The district grant helped fund the operation and maintenance of a new greenhouse, the completion of a new work shed, the development of a native plant demonstration garden and community education. These facilities enable Save The Bay's volunteers and botanists to propagate and plant more than 21,000 native seedlings. The group also removed 11,622 pounds of invasive plants throughout the Baylands.

Another district-funded grant project is "Watching Our Watersheds." This project mapped the creeks, urban drainage network, watersheds, baylands, and other features in Santa Clara Valley. When you open the watershed files in Google Earth, you can move through and learn about each watershed and view creeks, drainage channels, points of interest, species of concern and a representation of how our watersheds looked more than 100 years ago. Visit http://www.valleywater.org/WOW.aspx to try it out.

For more information on this year's grant cycle, go to www.valleywater.org/Services/ComprehensiveStewardshipGrant.aspx or contact Brian Mendenhall at (408) 630-3093 or bmendenhall@valleywater.org.

For more information about the Santa Clara Valley Water District and its board of directors, please visit our website www.valleywater.org. There you can ask questions or provide feedback 24-7 through Access Valley Water, our online customer communications service.

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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