If the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Measure B was going to do what it claimed, environmentalists would have supported it enthusiastically. But the environmental community is divided. Those who expect more environmentally are voting "NO on B" - to send the Water District back to come up with a supportable measure by June 2016.
Groups like Environmentalists for Living Streams, Friends of Coyote Creek, Salmonid and Steelhead Restoration Group, Western Waters Canoe Club are opposed; groups like the Sierra Club (Loma Prieta) and Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition, both refused to endorse, declaring themselves “neutral.”
Measure B claims to be a mixture of: water supply, earthquake repairs to dams, pollution abatement, habitat restoration and flood control.
Opposition comes because, below the surface of the public relations pitches, not all is as it seems.
Take the District’s Anderson Dam assertions. They say if Measure B fails in 2012 and waits until 2016, that “urgent seismic upgrades” will be delayed. But, in fact, the dam repairs will proceed on schedule funded by the Water Bills, not the tax. The money for dams was included in Measure B, not because the Water Bills wouldn’t cover it, but rather because it “plays well.” Voters concerned about the dams will be fooled into thinking that voting for Measure B is voting for dam repairs – disguising the Measure’s real purpose.
Measure B is mostly about flood control with lip service to the environment. Measure B’s flood control related projects (including those from the existing parcel tax) amount to 65 percent of total project funding.
Admittedly, there is, indeed, money for pollution abatement and wildlife habitat. But most of that is not focused on what will actually improve water quality or critical habitat. A few excellent projects are included to appeal to environmental voters. But most of the money is wasted; this is not a good investment of our taxpayer dollars.
Let’s rewrite Measure B – include the Measure’s good points while refocusing it to achieve real environmental goals. Bring it back to the voters in June 2016.
If you care about streams, vote NO on Measure B.
Richard McMurtry, water engineer, coordinator of Environmentalists for Living Streams