The Santa Clara Valley Water District is scheduled to hold a special meeting of its board of directors on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at its San Jose headquarters at 1:00pm. The topic will be SCVWD’s involvement in the California Water Fix. I won’t be able to attend but from the material available from the district’s website it appears there’s room for an educated guess as to how the vote will go. Remember that when you look back this afternoon – educated guess, not a prediction. There, now that I’ve done a bit of CYA we can get on with the report.
A little background; the first vote regarding participation in the CWF and the proposed twin tunnels was made by Westlands Water District. Taking all the variables and inputs into consideration is complicated but from my perspective it boiled down to the Westlands directors didn’t have enough information on three important points to reach a level of comfort to opt in. They needed to know: how much will it ultimately cost to opt in, how much water will be made available and how much will that water cost. Westlands WD decided not to participate at this time. Remember Westlands is a federal Central Valley Project contractor.
Later the Kern County Water Agency’s board opted to stay in but it was provisional and subject to change. Metropolitan Water District also opted in. Both receive the majority of their supplies from the State Water Project. Now SCVWD’s time to make a decision has come about. SCVWD has both CVP and SWP contracts and it will be an interesting twist. The US Bureau of Reclamation has made statements it’s OK with them if CVP contractors opt in the CWF individually but I haven’t heard any noise about the feds jumping in.
A memorandum to the SCVWD’s board signed by three directors laid out a resolution of conditional support for the CWF and after the usual plethora of whereas and therefore what’s key here is the seven guiding principles attached. These principles will be binding to the board and staff as follows:
- #1 Santa Clara County needs are the primary drivers in all our decisions involving the Water Fix project.
- #2 We will not allow Silicon Valley values and priorities to be placed at a disadvantage relative to Central Valley Agriculture or Southern California.
- #3 We are advocating for a flexible approach that address Silicon Valley stakeholder and community input.
- #4 As water is a human right, we must make investments to make sure our water supply meets future needs at a cost affordable by everyone.
- #5 Equity and costs are important.
- #6 Any final arrangement must provide flexibility to acquire supplemental water by taking advantage of future wet years to ensure residents have a reliable water supply, no matter what extreme weather the changing climate brings.
- #7 Keep negotiating for the best deal for Santa Clara County.
There are several clarifying provisions listed under each principle and it does read like something written in the Bay Area. Human rights and Silicon Valley and Climate Change are mentioned and I suspect these buzz words would be needed to gain approval in that neighborhood. Also, don’t forget the biggest buzz word – conditional – as in conditional support. Included is a statement that a single tunnel might be the best way to go and there was even a letter of support from the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau. About half of SCVWD’s supplies rely on groundwater. And while ultimately the southern half of the Santa Clara Valley’s economic output from agriculture is dwarfed by the northern Silicon Valley’s economic powerhouse (some estimates put the Silicon Valley’s economy alone in the top 10 worldwide) ag still churns out a respectable quarter of a billion dollars a year in crops and livestock.
It’d be fun right now to write about my inside sources, wish to remain anonymous, those intimately familiar with, and such all say the vote will go . . . The truth is we won’t know until this afternoon and maybe not even then if the resolution as written doesn’t pass or it changed by amendments or other unforeseen events. That’s it for now.
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SANTA CLARA VALLEY WATER DISTRICT – 5700 Almaden Expressway, San Jose CA 95118 408/265-2600 www.valleywater.org
Directors: John Varela – Chair, Richard Santos – Vice Chair, Barbara Keegan, Linda J. LeZotte, Nai Hsueh, Tony Estremera and Gary Kremen. Norma Camacho – Interim CEO, Stan Yamamoto – Attorney