Good news for improving environmental funding by the Water District

A potential environmental victory may be in the works at the Water District, fixing a defect in the current Clean Safe Creeks measure, if the measure gets renewed.

The current CSC funding is supposed to dedicate 14% of the parcel tax to environmental enhancement, while most of the remainder is dedicated to flood control.  While that 14% of course should be good news, included in the allowable activities for that 14% is removing vegetation from flood channels.  The argument is that much of the removed vegetation are non-native plants, but really it’s not about getting rid of non-natives, it’s about improving flood conveyance.

At a recent workshop about a potential renewed CSC measure (the current one expires in 2016), I raised this issue and said vegetation removal from channels should be charged to flood control, not to environmental enhancement.  Water District staff agreed with me, and said they’d been thinking along the same lines.

While that might not sound like a huge victory (and it’s not a victory at all unless and until a new parcel tax measure is written with the right language and passes), it could be bigger than it sounds.  In effect, it boosts the amount spent on actual environmental enhancement, and will help make Santa Clara County watersheds that much better off.

-Brian Schmidt

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