Ask San Jose to Protect Lake Cunningham’s Water Quality

Photo credit: JaGa, Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, June 28, the San Jose City Council will decide the fate of the remaining environmental funding from Measure T, the 2018 bond measure that helped protect Coyote Valley. Please email the City Council and tell them to spend this environmental funding on environmental protection such as addressing water quality contamination, rather than redirecting it to construction projects.

What’s Happening

In 2018, San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved Measure T, a $650M infrastructure bond measure. In a groundbreaking move, $50M of that funding was designated by the City Council for natural flood and water quality protection, focused primarily on Coyote Valley. The 2019 acquisition of 937 acres of open space and farmland in North Coyote Valley for permanent conservation used less than the full $50M, leaving $3.2M unused in the “Environmental and Flood Protection Projects” funding category.

In 2021, the Council unanimously voted to spend that $3.2M on projects to help improve water quality, such as at Lake Cunningham, where the water quality is so bad that swimming and even boating are now prohibited. But now, the Council is being asked to take that money away from water quality protection and instead allocate it to construction projects.

Why It Matters

The vast majority of the $650M in Measure T has already been allocated to infrastructure projects like police and fire stations. Only $50M was dedicated to environmental protection, including in Coyote Valley. The $3.2M that is the last remnant of that environmental funding should be spent on addressing water quality contamination, not shifted to construction projects.

Lake Cunningham served for generations as one of the primary open space recreation areas for the East Side.. Families who could not afford weekends at Lake Tahoe had their own lake, in their own neighborhood, where they could swim, boat, and hold weddings and quinceañeras. But for decades, water quality in Lake Cunningham has been degrading to the point where now, swimming and even boating have been prohibited for health and safety reasons. This is both an environmental disaster and a major inequity inflicted upon a low-income community of color. The $3.2 million in environmental funding will help begin the path to improved water quality.

What You Can Do

Please email the City Council and tell them to spend this funding on water quality protection, as they promised, rather than allocating it to construction projects instead.

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