The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors has voted unanimously to place a measure on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot to renew an expiring parcel tax and help ensure the quality, safety and supply of our local water resources.
The new, 15-year Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection program helps fulfill the five top community priorities, as determined through extensive community outreach:
- Ensure a safe, reliable water supply for the future
- Reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants, such as mercury and pharmaceuticals, in our waterways
- Protect our water supply and local dams from the impacts of earthquakes and natural disasters
- Restore fish, bird and wildlife habitat; and provide open space access
- Provide flood protection to homes, businesses, schools, streets and highways
Any renewal of the voter-approved local funding would not increase existing tax rates, and all funds generated by the measure would be locally controlled and cannot be taken away by the state or federal government. It would:
- Include exemption for low-income senior citizens
- Require all expenditures to be published annually
- Require external oversight by an independent monitoring committee
- Require at least two professional audits of the program during the 15-year period
“This measure is what we need. Our revenues are simply not enough to ensure that we are providing safe, reliable water for now and the future. So, we have to rely on going to the public,” said chairwoman Linda J. LeZotte.
Pointing out that more than 16,000 residents and stakeholders provided feedback during the 18-month collaborative effort to develop the program, Chair LeZotte thanked the community for “giving input and making suggestions to make the measure a better measure.”
The Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection measure, which the voters approved in 2000, has been critical to help meet our area’s need for clean, safe creeks and waterways. Nearly all of the project performance measures in the 2000 plan have been completed or exceeded, or are on track to be completed or exceeded. These include removing more than 4,200 pounds of mercury from local streams and the San Francisco Bay; preventing other pollutants, toxins and hazardous materials from affecting our local waterways; completing the Calabazas Creek Flood Protection Project ahead of the schedule; adding access to more than 66 miles of public trails.
But this funding is set to expire in 2016 if voters don’t renew it.
If successful in the November election, “Safe Clean Water” will replace the existing “Clean, Safe Creeks” plan. It would allow the district to continue to provide the levels of service that the community has come to expect, as well as add new projects to protect water quality, upgrade and repair infrastructure, restore wildlife habitat and protect against flooding. Without continued funding, there will be major reductions and potential eliminations of programs and services.
More detailed information about the proposed program can be found at www.safecleanwater.org.