Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
A healthy environment contributes to a healthy community. That’s why Valley Water works hard to do our part to keep our local waterways clean. But with responsibility for 275 miles of the 800 miles of streams in our county, we can’t do it alone.
Priority B projects focus on reducing and removing pollutants in our waterways, much of which is accomplished through partnerships. Work includes mercury treatment systems in our reservoirs, as well as partnering with cities and other agencies to reduce runoff pollution and thereby stop contaminants from entering our water in the first place.
The world of clean water is constantly evolving, as we learn more about new contaminants that can make their way into our water, and as we are able to measure more accurately what’s already there. Valley Water also provides grants to reduce emerging contaminants.
Valley Water wants the public to understand what we do in support of this important effort, and to be a part of the solution, so we support public education and volunteer cleanup efforts.
Valley Water also provides coordinated cleanup of encampments near waterways, trash and graffiti removal, and rapid emergency response to hazardous materials spills.
Partnerships, Grants, and Volunteer Support
Pollution prevention partnerships and grants
Grants and partnerships allow Valley Water to leverage funding in the Safe, Clean Water Program to get more done for the community. We award pollution prevention grants to qualified local agencies, nonprofits, schools and more as we all work toward the same goal: clean, reliable, safe water for the community.
Valley Water awards an average of $500,000 every alternate year, and up to an additional $200,000 per year toward partnerships with cities for specific programs to reduce contaminants in water and reduce emerging contaminants.
To date, Valley Water has awarded $3.3 million to support a variety of programs such as public education to prevent pharmaceuticals from entering waterways, technical assistance to help growers protect groundwater, and partnerships to reduce litter and graffiti. This fiscal year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) Valley Water awarded five more grants totaling $478,969.
Completed grant projects included a partnership with the California Product Stewardship Council to prevent pharmaceutical waste from contaminating waterways by establishing 50 new convenient and secure pharmaceutical collection bins in pharmacies, hospitals and police stations in Santa Clara County. Another partnership with Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition facilitated 24 volunteer trash cleanups with more than 800 volunteers removing over 30 tons of trash from the banks of Coyote Creek in north San José. The partnership included education to inform the community about opportunities to be stewards of the creek.
Support volunteer cleanup efforts and education
Working with volunteers and supporting educational activities helps people to understand and become involved in keeping our water clean. This project allows us to provide grants and partnerships for cleanup, education, outreach and activities that care for our waterways and the areas around them. Funding also allows Valley Water to continue supporting volunteer cleanup activities such as National River Cleanup Day, California Coastal Cleanup Day, the Great American Pick Up, and Adopt-A-Creek, as well as Creek Connections Action Group and creekwise education. These cleanups bring out thousands of volunteers who collect tens of thousands of pounds of trash from our waterways each year.
Projects in this category that are still under way include those that help educate students, such as a partnership with the Tech Museum of Innovation which will provide certain field trip groups with science labs that help teach information about watersheds, and that align educator resources to the water-related exhibits in the Tech Museum’s new Solve for Earth exhibition.