I have been involved since 1992 with trying to get the Santa Clara Valley Water District to undo the damage it's done to our streams.
It can do this by restoring natural channels, which provide low-cost flood damage reduction as well as creating habitat conditions that will allow the native salmonid fishery recover to the abundance approaching historic levels.
We thought we had achieved a victory in 2003 when the District agreed to a long-term comprehensive program to restore the salmonid fishery on three major creeks in the county.
But that was nine years ago. Instead of using the existing parcel tax funds that promised to remove barriers to fish migration to their spawning grounds, the District put its $16 million of that money into “reserves” and, if Measure B passes, will move that money into flood control projects instead.
Also, in June 2012, the District voted to not proceed with the implementation of the projects it agreed to in 2003, but rather to spend the next couple years writing another report called a Habitat Conservation Plan. It would rather write plans and reports than keep its commitments to do projects that actually benefit the environment.
Now it has the audacity to claim that Measure B is good for fish because during the next 15 years, it promises to remove only one of the nine barriers it promised to remove in 2003.
The District has put enough environmental funding in Measure B so that it can focus on the little it does, and hide the fact that it's not keeping its commitments. It doesn't say that what it's doing won’t enable the fish to reach their spawning grounds and continue their cycle of life.
If we want to see our streams restored to a healthy more natural condition in our lifetimes, we need to vote NO on B. Then we can work with the District to write a better tax by June 2016.
—Larry Johmann is president of the Western Waters Canoe Club. He's also a retired Lockheed Martin engineer, who has been active in the stream restoration movement since 1992. He was served on the board of the Guadalupe Coyote Resources Conservation District for more than 15 years, more than six years as president, and now is president of the Western Waters Canoe Club and the Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition.