The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center held an event on August 10 in light of a $177 million award to the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project. Senator Dianne Feinstein joined Linda J. LeZotte, vice chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors, to celebrate the funding award.
Back in 2016, the federal government was in talks regarding a decision on whether or not to fund the Shoreline Project. Recently, the decision to award $177 million to the project was approved.
“The federal government believed enough to front-load this effort. The Army Corps of Engineers is diligent and very good at what they do, and that will be beginning. And assembled in all nine counties is very strong support,” said Feinstein.
The $177 million award is set to fund the restoration and preservation of the salt marshes in Alviso. The project will also involve building levees in the area.
The federal government award will help with the funds necessary to move forward with the project construction phase.
The federal government will contribute approximately $74 million to the $177 million project. The state of California will contribute $58 million and the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s share is about $45 million.
The water district and state will reimburse the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their share of the project cost. This upfront funding should reduce time spent on securing funds, allowing the construction to move forward earlier.
“Construction is moving forward with a dike or levee system … that will protect the local infrastructure here. We anticipate that being the summer of 2019,” said Lieutenant Colonel Travis Rayfield, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The next step of the project is to move forward with the groundbreaking and levee construction. According to Rayfield, the project still has a few agreements before the construction can begin. Currently, the planning arrangement is looking at a five-year construction period.
Due to the erosion of the salt marshes, the area around Alviso is below sea level. Feinstein explained that this could potentially put the area in danger of flooding caused by rising sea levels and the melting of large glaciers.
The currently existing berms act as de facto levees, so the project is looking to engineer a levee system to restore the ecosystem and the recreational trail system.
According to the California State Coastal Conservancy, after the levees are finished building, nature will be allowed to take over for rebuilding the ecosystem.
The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project is said to be the “largest restoration project west of the Mississippi River.”
For more information on the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project, visit their website here.