On Aug. 22, the Valley Water Board of Directors allocated additional resources to support greater service and coordination toward cleaning up trash, debris and hazardous pollutants produced by encampments along waterways in Santa Clara County.
The board approved two new staff positions, adding to Valley Water’s cleanup efforts countywide. The decision follows the board’s approval earlier this year of two new jobs dedicated to encampment cleanup operations and increased funding for related services and supplies.
“This investment in additional resources reflects Valley Water’s commitment to protecting the health of Santa Clara County’s creeks,” Valley Water Board Chair John L. Varela said. “We continue to tackle the issue of creek pollution in collaboration with local and county governments, organizations that provide outreach services to unhoused individuals, and dedicated community volunteers.”
From July 2022 to June 2023, Valley Water’s encampment cleanup crew removed more than 2.7 million pounds of trash, debris and hazardous pollutants generated from encampments.
The board’s recent actions to expand the level of such service will allow Valley Water to double the number of cleanups during the year.
Recently, the board also voted to support two new programs that aim to further enhance cleanliness along the waterways. The Clean Camps, Clean Creeks Program will provide debit cards to unsheltered residents who maintain tidy camp areas free of trash and debris or collect and bag trash accumulated on land owned or managed by Valley Water.
The Portable Toilet Facilities Program will administer the provision and servicing of portable toilets and wash stations at 20 locations along local creeks to reduce biowaste entering the waterways.
To help support these efforts, Valley Water was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency providing approximately $2.2 million to perform encampment cleanups and provide portable toilets on heavily impacted creeks. The grant also provides about $900,000 to address encampment-generated environmental impacts on Coyote Creek.