Wieckowski bill seeks funding to protect Silicon Valley from flooding, sea level rise

January 11, 2018

SACRAMENTO — Sen.  Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) today introduced new state legislation to ease the financial burden on local jurisdictions working to prevent flooding in residential and business communities along the southern end of San Francisco Bay. 

SB 881 would add the Shoreline Project to the list of flood control projects that can receive state flood control subvention reimbursements. These funds allow local agencies, in this case the Santa Clara Valley Water District, to receive reimbursements for paying the state’s share of federally authorized projects being done in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This bill provides access to funding for critical flood protection for thousands of residents and businesses in the South Bay, home to many large employers that are vital to Silicon Valley’s economy,” said Sen. Wieckowski, chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. “As Californians contend with the effects of sea-level rise and other issues related to climate change, government must assist in addressing those impacts and investing in climate adaptation. This bill authorizes the expenditure of state dollars to assist in project completion, providing flood protection and opening up new recreational areas for the residents of the Bay Area.”

To receive the reimbursements, a project must be added by state legislation to the Department of Water Resources project list for the Flood Control Subventions Program. The Shoreline Project combines the environmental restoration of wetlands with traditional levee construction to protect properties in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San José, and the community of Alviso from the risk of high tides and rising seas.

Thousands of people and businesses including Cisco and Google, the NASA/Ames Research Center, and three wastewater facilities will receive protection through this vital project. The South Bay shoreline has seen increased flooding in recent years due to the confluence of severe storms and high tides. The Shoreline Project was authorized for federal funding by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation “WIIN” Act, signed by President Obama on December 16, 2016.

“Getting federal approval and funding for this project, was a big win for South Bay residents, businesses, and our shoreline environment,” said Richard P. Santos, Chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. “SB 881 will provide the opportunity to bring home additional dollars to allow the water district to continue work on this important project to protect Silicon Valley.”

The total design and construction cost for the flood risk management structures, ecosystem restoration, and recreational improvements is estimated to be $177 million, with $71 million as the federal share of this project, $45 million from the water district, and $61 million from the State Coastal Conservancy. An estimated $4 to $7 million is expected to be eligible for the state flood subventions reimbursements.

The first phase of the project includes construction of a new 4-mile levee along the South San Francisco Bay shoreline and restoration of about 2,900 acres of former salt-production ponds to tidal marsh habitat. It will also provide recreation opportunities and complete certain segments of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Senator Wieckowski’s district stretches from southern Alameda County to parts of Santa Clara County.