In 2011, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors awarded watershed stewardship grants to Vision New America, Save The Bay and Coastal Habitat Educational and Environmental Restoration (CHEER). On Tuesday, Dec. 11, these three organizations presented project reports to the district board.
Vision New America was awarded $49,700 for its Water Pollution Prevention Education for Ethnic Minority Youth and Communities Project, which engaged ethnic minority youth to provide education and outreach on water pollution prevention activities to minority businesses, high schools, elected officials and other policy related organizations.
“This was a really significant grant for us,” said Liliana Li, executive director of Vision New America, in her presentation to the board. “The goal of our project is to generate awareness to help increase the stewardship of the watersheds, streams and our natural resources in order to preserve and improve the quality of surface and groundwater.”
Twenty-four youth leaders participated. Among their successes, the leaders presented to more than 500 students on protecting local waterways and created a public service announcement. The leaders also approached more than 100 ethnic-owned businesses to educate them about Santa Clara County’s Green Business Program and to encourage businesses to seek certification. The youth leaders met with 13 local elected officials to advocate on water protection issues. Finally, a group of 120 volunteers filled 150 bags of garbage picked up from Coyote Creek.
Save The Bay presented its project, the Tidal Marsh Ecotone Stewardship Project, which focused on community-based restoration and native plant propagation at the Palo Alto Baylands for the re-establishment of tidal marsh upland transition zone to provide natural habitat for Bay wildlife and to create a buffer against sea level rise resulting from climate change. The district awarded $25,000 to the project.
The district grant helped fund the operation and maintenance of a new greenhouse, the completion of a new work shed, the development of a native plant demonstration garden and community education. These facilities enable Save The Bay’s volunteers and botanists to propagate and plant more than 21,000 native seedlings. The group also removed 11,622 pounds of invasive plants throughout the Baylands.
Nursery Manager Doug Serrill said, “Save The Bay is the largest community organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. As the Bay’s leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay remains dedicated to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife.”
CHEER received $40,800 to support its Native Plant and Tree Education and Restoration Project. Since the grant was awarded, CHEER has carried out outreach and education for restoration through parent workshops, a seven-week long environmental science curriculum reaching 1,340 pre-school and kindergarten children. Each child was guided to plant a native California poppy and to observe its growth cycle.
The program included a Children’s Nature Fair which drew 4,500 people. During the fair, children, teachers and families planted their classroom-grown native plants in the riparian corridor of Uvas Creek.
The goal of the program was to develop the next generation of environmental stewards, and to reduce the negative impacts of garbage, toxins and pollutants in the upper Pajaro River watershed. Between 2011 and 2012, CHEER observed a 90 percent reduction in illegal dumping in a key stretch of Uvas Creek.
Herman Garcia, CHEER’s board president, described the effort to fill 25 dump trucks and 25 utility truck loads with garbage from a quarter mile section of Uvas Creek in December 2011.
“When we were pulling the garbage out, all the icky, sticky, stanky stuff went to the waste disposal. It went to the dump.” With the hard stuff, like tires, hot water heaters, televisions and computers, Garcia built what he calls “the World Famous Garbage Museum of the Pajaro River Watershed.”
After the community awareness and cleanup efforts, the group found very little garbage and pollutants in the same stretch just a year later.
Since 2001, the district has awarded $16.4 million to 86 projects in its three grant programs funded primarily by the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Program. The three grant programs are for watershed stewardship, environmental enhancement planning and implementation, and trails and open space.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 1.8 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses throughout Santa Clara County.