THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE COYOTE CREEK FLOOD

Opinion
By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hilbert Morales

EL OBSERVADOR

First, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone has reminded all that Coyote Creek flood victims are entitled to a temporary property tax break. If your real property’s flood damage exceeded $10,000, a program named “The Calamity Property Tax Relief Program” is what you need to apply for (within 12 months). Just g o to the County Assessor’s website; download the form to learn what information is required. Applications forms must be submitted. Phone: 408-299-5500.

The Coyote Creek flooded the City of Alviso back during 1983 (levee breached). And it seems that at 20 year intervals, the Coyote Creek overflows to flood some communities as it has historically.

It may be prudent for the existing flood zones to be re-zoned to require residential buildings to be built on stilts (i.e. be elevated) so as to minimize water damage to furnishings and personal goods.

On Thursday, 03.09.17 a public meeting was held at San Jose City Hall to debrief, in a transparent manner, what transpired with the objective of making improvements. Mayor Sam Liccardo is to be respected for publicly stating that ‘the Office of the San Jose Mayor assumes any and all responsibility.” That is a magnanimous statement; politically correct; but not true since the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) has jurisdiction and responsibility for the Coyote Creek watershed and the Anderson Dam located just east of Morgan Hill upstream.

I went to the SCVWD website to learn that for several years the Anderson Dam was in need of ‘seismic upgrade’ and other improvements. As an outcome of the ‘pineapple rain storms’ which delivered ‘monsoon type rainstorms’ for several days, the Anderson Dam was allowed to go from less than 15% capacity to 103% capacity. When this reservoir level almost breached its own top, then water was released into the Coyote Creek. It is important that SCVWD hydrology engineers accurately determine the capacity of the Coyote Creek channel so as not to overload it again. It is noted that in the past federal assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers was requested and denied (2016).

It is also important to have the same hydrologic data for the Lower Silver Creek, Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River.

All of these creeks and river end up flowing through the Alviso District which is currently protected by levees. Understand that due to subsidence, some areas of Alviso community are at least 6 feet below sea level.

A f lood of this sort must never be allowed to happen again, because the City of San Jose and the SCVWD both know they must collaborate and communicate effectively. The Alviso community has an Air raid siren type of alarm:…It is used whenever a flood is imminent and possible. This type of alarm may be required all along the Coyote Creek, especially located in every known low flood zone.

As in many other communities (e.g. New Orleans, LA.), it is the low income marginalized residents who had to evacuate their residences on very short notice. While a siren or door to door notice system may be planned and implemented; this community must encourage its citizens to register to vote, and vote in numbers exceeding 70%. Then these citizens will be ‘true constituents’ with the ability to replace any elected official or demand the discharge of any technical specialist who did not function adequately nor professionally. The SCVWD professional staff must know the capacity of all creek and river channels so as to prevent the overloading of the stream beds (and keeping them below the flood levels). And those who remove high volumes of water from the aquifers must also be regulated more so as to mitigate continued subsidence. This community must raise the level of knowledge, vigilance and awareness to prevent any future flooding incident ever again. The SCVWD has the direct jurisdictional responsibility to ensure the flood control which local residents require.

Yet praise-worthy happenings occurred during this ordeal: First responders assisted many without injury or loss of lives. And altruism was evident from ‘personal modest assistance’ to that $5 million donated to the San Joe City Flood Relief Fund. This very diverse community demonstrated a very high humane standard.

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS OBTAINED FROM THE SCVWD WEBSITE:

“The Santa Clara Valley Water District is the primary water resource agency for Santa Clara County, supplying wholesale water, providing flood protection and serving as environmental steward for clean, safe creeks and healthy ecosystems.”

“It serves approximately two million people in 15 cities: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mt. View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga and Sunnyvale, and the towns of Los Altos Hills and Los Gatos.”

‘As the county’s water wholesaler, the water district makes sure there is enough clean, safe water for homes a nd businesses,”

“As the agency responsible for local flood protection, the water district works diligently to protect Santa Clara Valley residents and businesses from the devastating effects of flooding.”

Our stream stewardship responsibilities include creek restoration and wildlife habitat projects, pollution prevention efforts and a commitment to natural flood protection.”

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