South Bay flood prevention project awarded $177 million

A project to prevent flooding and improve habitat along the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline was awarded $177 million in funding. Authorities made the announcement at a news conference.

The section of the bay's shoreline near Alviso is a popular spot for recreation: home to countless birds and critters.San Jose resident Faith Bamford says, "We love it here. It's a wonderful place to walk."

It is also prone to flooding. The community of Alviso, several Silicon Valley businesses, and the region’s largest wastewater facility are all routinely at risk.

And so officials are taking action.

Friday they announced the award of $177 million, which includes $74 million in federal funds, $58 million from the state and $45 million from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to help protect this section of Santa Clara County shoreline.

Senator Dianne Feinstein says, "What we have achieved here is the beginning of a very meaningful team, and teams accomplish things. And now I think it's going to happen."

The money, part of which will be reimbursed by state and local entities, allows the project to get underway, building a long levee around the area.

Melanie Richardson of the Santa Clara Valley Water District says, "It's the section that goes between Coyote Creek and Guadalupe River. It's about a 4-mile section of levee that will protect against coastal flooding and 50 years of sea level rise."

Another component of the project will be ecosystem restoration, once the levee is built.

Amy Hutzel, of the California Coastal Conservancy says, "Then we're going to be able to take down these un-engineered berms and piles of dirt around the salt ponds, to restore the tidal marsh. And nature will take its own course."

This four-mile section is just the first phase in what will be a much bigger project.

Engineers hope to extend the levee from Coyote Creek all the way north to the San Francisquito Creek near Palo Alto, eventually.