Red tape may put end to South Bay flood control project

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A dispute has erupted over a long-planned flood protection project along Upper Berryessa Creek in the South Bay.

A dispute has erupted over a long-planned flood protection project along Upper Berryessa Creek in the South Bay.

Now there's concern the project, and others like it, could be impacted if additional environmental measures costing millions must be included.

Construction crews are already working on the 2.2 mile-long section of the creek.

The $35 million project was funded by Congress three years ago. The goal is to protect hundreds of homes, apartments and commercial buildings located where floods have occurred several times.

The regional water quality control agency issued a permit just over a year ago, but here's where there is disagreement.

The agency said it would circle back later with mitigation requirements to offset environmental harm from the project.

"They kept making their intentions known, and we kept giving them legal arguments or reasons why we felt this was an incorrect decision, but ultimately, I would say our arguments fell on deaf ears," explained Christopher Hakes, a project manager.

Last month, the water board did circle back, requiring mitigation measures, restoring 15 acres of wetlands or 15,000 feet of creek in another area.

The Valley Water District projects that could incur an additional cost, up to $15 million. The change in administration in Washington might not approve the funds.

"If they thought that there was a flood protection project that had dollars associated with it; it was authorized and approved and was out there, and was then being jeopardized by additional environmental regulations they felt was too onerous, it would be within their discretion to stop the project," said Hakes.

The burden could fall on the water district, which says the money would be taken away from other flood protection projects.

After what happened in San Jose's Rocksprings neighborhood in February, addressing flood risk is a high priority in the region.

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weathercalifornia waterfloodingstorm damageflash floodingweathersanta clara countyMilpitasSan Jose
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