Mountain View Voice

News - July 30, 2010

Water District approves $40 million flood protection project

Project includes Cuesta Annex and McKelvey Park flood basins

by Daniel DeBolt and Nick Veronin

Santa Clara Valley Water District board members unanimously approved a sweeping project Thursday designed to protect 2,220 properties in Mountain View from a rare, 100-year flood.

Approved as part of the project were two flood basins — supported by the Mountain View City Council — in McKelvey Park and the vacant lot next to Cuesta Park known as the Cuesta Annex. Detailed plans have yet to be approved by the City Council.

The project also calls for the construction of new floodwalls to be built along Mountain View segments of Permanente Creek, along with flood protection basins along the creek in Los Altos at Blach middle school and at Rancho San Antonio County Park.

The project promises a complete revamp of McKelvey Park. The Water District will pay for a new baseball field, lowered 15 feet so it can double as flood basin. The plan was welcomed by local Little League teams who were promised new bleachers, a new snack shack, artificial turf and improved lighting, among other amenities. There will also be a playground structure in the revamped park, which currently does not have one.

The project will protect two-thirds of properties at risk in the event of a 100-year flood — which has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year, said Katherine Oven, deputy operating officer for the district. Numerous property owners will be saved from the expense of buying flood insurance.

In recent months there has been renewed opposition to using the front portion of Cuesta Annex for a flood basin, although the Mountain View City Council approved the basin as part of a broader conceptual plan for the Annex in 2008. Much of the opposition has to do with a handful of old trees in the Annex that will be removed in order to make way for the flood basin. The basin will cover 7.5 acres and reach a depth of 21.5 feet deep in some places. Water District officials have promised to make improvements to the Annex, including new trails and landscaping.

The project, which Santa Clara Valley Water District planners estimate will cost about $40 million, will be funded by the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Act approved by voters in 2000. The approved project expands on the original goal of protecting 1,600 properties.

An environmental impact report for the project was approved in June. It showed little environmental impact from the project aside from construction noise and traffic from trucks carrying loads of dirt from the Annex and Blach Middle School down Grant Road.

Oven said she is excited that the project is moving forward.

"When that big flood comes, everybody will realize that this is important that we did this, because we staved off disaster by putting these measures in place," she said.

The Water District reported in November that the entire project would likely take five to six years to complete, with individual projects taking six months to two years.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com and Nick Veronin at nveronin@mv-voice.com

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