The Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County support a fair, equitable tax and spending structure for flood control, stream maintenance, water quality protection, and healthy creek and river ecosystems within the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Taxes for flood control should have a sunset provision.
Top priority tax expenditures for flood control should include:
- Multi-objective flood protection construction projects that provide solutions to flooding erosion, sedimentation, water quality and water recharge problems while maintaining healthy creek and river ecosystems.
- Maintenance and repair of natural and constructed stream beds.
- Increased coordination between SCVWD and cities and county for land use planning that takes into account the watersheds, creeks and floodplains.
- Water quality protection and pollution prevention.
- Protection and restoration of streams for beneficial in-stream uses.
The following are also important tax expenditures for flood control but of lesser priority than those listed in Section 1.
- Emergency response services and information.
- Protection of open space and habitat areas in flood plains, riparian areas, and butter strips for public recreation.
- Environmental education for public agencies, citizens, and school children.
- Land acquisition for watershed and riparian protection.
Flooding impacts roads, infrastructure, and places of employment as well as residences and can be caused or made worse by land uses which are not necessarily affected by flooding. Therefore, the LWV of Santa Clara County supports a single county-wide tax structure for flood control, with assessment structured on category of use and on a formula for the amount of runoff created by a given land use. This tax should have a sunset provision. Santa Clara Valley Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) should make provision for ongoing funds for maintenance from other sources if a new tax is not supported after an old tax sunsets.
To ensure equitability of tax expenditure, SCVWD should utilize zone advisory groups with input from neighborhood representatives and environmental groups as well as city councils. Tax expenditures should be monitored and have accountability for how well the needs of the various watersheds are being met.
Long range and environmental concerns should be included in formulating flood tax rates, allocation and expenditures.
The Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County support the SCVWD, both independently and in cooperation with others, taking these actions:
- Make strong responses to EIRs on projects that impact watershed drainage and floodways.
- Work to ensure that city and county planning departments, when permitting developments in watershed areas, are required to address SCVWD concerns for creeks and streams.
- Identify how proposed developments would affect water quality and flood potential.
- Using a region-wide approach, develop ordinances for jurisdictions to use in protecting riparian areas and floodplains and honoring setback and conservation easements.
- In cooperation with other entities, purchase or preserve land in critical watershed or riparian areas to ensure control over an integrated water resources plan.
The Leagues urge the SCVWD to take the following actions:
- Work cooperatively with property owners, neighborhoods, and city and county jurisdictions for creek maintenance and flood control.
- Identify and develop best management practices and utilize education programs.
- Maintain and clear creeks to protect public health and safety before emergencies arise, with appropriate permitting if necessary.
- Maintain an ongoing program to educate jurisdictions and citizens about flood control and creek maintenance.