gmhTODAY 19 gmhToday April May 2018 - Page 14

Our Infrastructure…an update WATER WISDOM Written By Robin Shepherd Next to the air we breathe, nothing is more important to life than water. The question is, are we giving it the attention it deserves? COYOTE PERCOLATION DAM NASA photo of earth (United States) from space I n November 2012, Californians voted for Measure B: the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The program focuses on five priorities: ensuring a safe, reliable water supply; reducing toxins, hazards and contaminants in our waterways; protecting our water supply from the adverse effects of natural disasters; restoring wildlife habitat and providing open space; and providing flood protection to homes, businesses, schools and highways. Measure B also committed us to a 15-year special parcel tax. In January 2018, Santa Clara Valley Water District Chair Richard Santos cast the water district’s vision, calling this a “year of action.” Now in his third term as Chair, Santos said the District’s priorities are flood risk reduction, emergency preparedness, community engagement, and collaboration with government agencies at all levels. Not all of the Measure B priorities made it on his short list. Speaking on a theme of “resilience,” Santos said, “The best way to be resilient is to be prepared and to work together.” So how does that translate into a year of action? Let’s take a look. 14 At the top of the water district’s list is pursuing important flood protection projects. The SCVWD facility along Coyote Creek near Metcalf Road in South San José serves to divert water from the creek to replenish the local groundwater aquifer. Last winter’s storms created strong creek flows that damaged the Coyote Percolation Dam. By mid-October, the District had expedited repairs, restoring the dam to proper function in time for winter. A new concrete apron was installed, and pools adjacent to the fish ladder were repaired to support fish passage. The damaged stream banks were repaired and buttressed with boulders. Approximate cost of the repairs, $670,000. MAIN AVENUE and MADRONE PIPELINE SCVWD recently launched this project in Morgan Hill. It calls for install ation of nearly three miles of raw water pipeline to meet South County’s groundwater recharge demands. By definition, raw water is water that hasn’t been filtered or disinfected. The new system will allow water from Anderson Reservoir to flow to both the Main Avenue Ponds and the Madrone Channel, where it will percolate into the groundwater aquifer, thus helping to ensure a safe, reliable water supply for South County residents. Originally built in 1955, this section of pipeline was rendered inoperable in recent years due to root intrusion and corrosion. These ponds are currently refilled with imported water from the San Luis Reservoir. Construction is being done in three phases due to be completed in July 2019. To the extent that this project restores GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN APRIL/MAY 2018 existing infrastructure to refill the Llagas groundwater basin, which stretches across much of Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and San Martin, it has the potential to benefit South County residents for years to come. SOUTH COUNTY RECYCLED WATER PIPELINE PROJECT Currently underway, this project is a collaborative effort of the District, cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill, and the South County Regional Wastewater Authority. The goal is to increase the availability of recycled water in South County by roughly 50 percent, to 3,000 acre-feet per year. The installation of the nearly 3-mile pipeline will expand the use of recycled water, currently used for agricultural and industrial purposes, and will allow the water district to conserve water supplies including surface water. CALIFORNIA WATERFIX PROJECT This $17.1 billion state-driven project aims to improve water infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region by digging twin tunnels under the Delta to transport water to various points south including the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California urban areas. According to the water district up to 40 percent of the water Santa Clara County uses annually comes through the Delta (although Morgan Hill’s water comes from the Llagas subbasin and the Coyote Valley subarea). The Delta’s aging levees are vulnerable to rising sea levels and natural disasters and its fragile eco- system has not fared all that well. The water district’s board of directors voted last October to participate in California WaterFix, but with the condition that it be a lower-cost, scaled- down and phased project. The vote