Santa Clara Valley Water District
Santa Clara Valley Water District recently applied for California Water Bond funding to expand the Pacheco Reservoir east of Gilroy. The expanded dam would be filled mostly with water from San Luis Reservoir and some storm runoff from the surrounding watershed. It would also be used to store water imported through the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. While the project aims to provide much needed water to wildlife refuges in the Central Valley and to Pacheco Creek for the threatened Central Coast Steelhead, we are wary of new dams, the potential for contamination of Pacheco Creek and the Pajaro watershed with invasive species, and whether environmental benefits will be guaranteed. We outlined our concerns in comments on the Initial Study and Notice of Preparation, and also attended a working group meeting for the project. We will continue to be involved.
We are disappointed to see Santa Clara Valley Water District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers move forward with the Berryessa Creek Flood Control Project, a plan that includes replacing the existing soft-earthen bed and banks along 2.2 miles of Upper Berryessa Creek with rock riprap. The 2.2 mile portion of the creek between Calaveras Boulevard and I-680 overflows its banks about once every 10 to 20 years under existing conditions.
We believe that the Project perpetuates a dated approach towards flood control, failing to embrace the growing trend towards urban stream revitalization and reducing habitat for organisms living in the creek. Transforming the channels from earthen bed to concrete will impede natural processes that occur in the creek, including the types of vegetation that can thrive, channel movement, and sediment transport processes. Organisms that are important to a riparian ecosystem such as worms, fish-larvae and algae will lose vital habitat, restricting their beneficial uses.
A Tentative Order (Order) for Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) was created for the project, covering construction activities, planned operations and maintenance activities after the Project is constructed and the mitigation and monitoring plan (MMP) requirements necessary for the compliance with federal and State regulations. During the public comment period for the Order, we worked with other organizations to write a letter asking the Water Board to consider improvements, specifically:
• Addition of State of California standards for pre-construction nesting surveys
• Clarification of the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan availability schedule
• The inclusion of a contingency fund to provide for Mitigation and Monitoring changes
• A statement specific to potential sediment impacts downstream of the Project
Since the project aims to protect the BART station from flooding, we are not optimistic that our recommendations will be adopted. Regardless, we continue to monitor the project and provide input when necessary.