Mayor Sam Liccardo is clashing with the agency that’s responsible for Santa Clara County’s water supply.
California is headed for another severe drought due — and because of climate change scientists said it’s only going to get worse. That’s where Valley Water’s $2.5 billion reservoir project comes in, which is what they say is key to protecting our future water supply.
Liccardo said it is an overpriced mistake that could mean rate hikes for users every year for the next decade.
“We don’t need this project,” Liccardo said. “Let’s let it go.”
Under the project, Santa Clara Valley Water District would expand the Pacheco Reservoir so it can store much more water, giving the South Bay a bigger reserve in a drought.
The agency said its project is being misunderstood and unfairly targeted by the mayor, saying the rate hike claims is incorrect and noting that the agency already has a $500 million grant from the state.
A grant they say they got because the project was the best of its kind.
“It does serve as an emergency water supply for Valley Water, as well as protection for disadvantaged communities, it actually eases some of the pull that we have on the Delta,” said Christopher Hakes of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
Liccardo argues there are much cheaper and more effective options that won’t hike up your water bill.
“Let’s save the money and invest in conservation, let’s invest in much less expensive approaches such as water banks,” Liccardo said.
On Tuesday, Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Board of Directors will vote on whether to increase water rates.
The hike would be about $4.30 to the average homeowner’s monthly bill starting July 1, with the extra money being used to help pay for the Pacheco Reservoir project.
In the meantime, the agency said it’s also working on cutting down the overall cost, possibly by as much as $400 million. And also hopes to get more federal money to offset costs. They say the bottom line is this project is key to protecting the water supply for generations.
“We’re not looking at just this year or just next year, we’re looking at 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the line,” Hakes said. “In fact, an expanded reservoir will be in service for 100 years or more.”
Liccardo has no power to stop the project, but does hope his argument will sway those who can.