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DATE: March 9, 2016 12:00:00 PM PST

San José Continues to Be Transparent and Negotiate in Good Faith, Contrary to Tributary Agencies’ Lack of Cooperation

Environmental Services Department news releases

For Immediate Release

March 9, 2016

Jennie Loft, Public Information Manager
Office Phone: (408) 535-8554 


San José Continues to Be Transparent and Negotiate in Good Faith, Contrary to Tributary Agencies’ Lack of Cooperation 

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Irresponsible and unsupported accusations made by small wastewater tributary agencies regarding alleged misuse of ratepayer funds by San José and Santa Clara are entirely unfounded, according to the City of San José.

The allegations were made at a news conference today (Wednesday, March 9) held at the West Valley Sanitary District that serves Saratoga and Los Gatos to collect sewage and send it for extensive wastewater treatment at the facility owned by the cities of San José and Santa Clara.

“We’re deeply disappointed that our partners, who should be helping us protect the environmental quality of San Francisco Bay, instead continue to resist good faith negotiations regarding their fair share of the costs of essential improvements to our shared regional infrastructure,” said Ashwini Kantak, Assistant Director for the San José Environmental Services Department. “We just met with them this past Monday and they did not say anything to us about their allegations.

“Their publicity stunts only spread misinformation and waste everyone’s time and money, increase the risk of expensive delays of the long-term capital improvements that they actually have helped us plan as our partners, and add unnecessary costs to rate payers served by all the tributary agencies.”

San José operates the Regional Wastewater Facility on behalf of 1.4 million people and eight Silicon Valley cities. The smaller sewage collection agencies, referred to as “tributary agencies,” have explicit cost sharing agreements with San José and Santa Clara for facility operations and improvements.

“Although the tributary agencies have accused San José of lack of transparency regarding the planning and funding for Regional Waster Facility improvements, we have regularly posted all reports, plans, budgets, and discussions related to the capital improvement program for the past decade on the city’s website,” said Kantak.

“In addition, all the tributary agencies have been represented in the joint powers consortium that oversees our operation of the facility and have been fully involved in all aspects of our improvement program.”

The tributaries made an extensive public records act (PRA) request to San José earlier this year, and San José has responded with documents totaling more than 5,800 pages that cover the period from 1990 to 2015. San José received another PRA request from the tributaries, which is currently being fulfilled in full compliance with both state law and the city’s own sunshine policy commitments.

In addition, the city has posted more than ten years of extensive public meeting minutes, project reports, and audits on San José’s web site.

In response to the tributaries’ PRA requests and their filing of a claim against the city, San José has also requested public records from the tributaries.

“Although we’ve provided detailed information, in good faith and complete compliance, our partners have not been timely, complete, or cooperative regarding the public documents that we have asked for.

“We’re committed to ending this dispute and its distractions so that all of us can focus on our main challenge, which is to rebuild the wastewater facility efficiently and continue to serve and protect the entire region without risk of failure,” said Kantak.

As part of the public process, a public hearing about this issue is scheduled for March 24 at 1:30 p.m. at San José Council Chambers, 200 East Santa Clara St., San José. The hearing will be held by the Treatment Plant Advisory Committee (TPAC), which is the joint powers advisory body that includes representatives from San José and Santa Clara as the facility owners, and all the tributary agencies.

Two weeks ago, the City of San José formally rejected the tributary agencies’ legal claims regarding the planning, implementation, and costs for the long-term Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.

The tributary agencies represent about 20 percent of the population served by wastewater facility located at the northernmost end of San José.

About San José Environmental Services Department (ESD) and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility

San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation. The San José Environmental Services Department ( manages garbage and recycling services; watershed protection and pollution prevention; municipal drinking water and recycled water; community sustainability initiatives; and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.

The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the western United States. Operating around the clock since 1956, the RWF treats about 110 million gallons of wastewater daily that is then discharged into the waters of southern San Francisco Bay. The treated wastewater helps keep the Bay clean and supports a diverse ecosystem of birds, fish, and habitat. The RWF consistently meets 100 percent of its state and federal discharge permit requirements.

The Regional Wastewater Facility is jointly owned by the cities of San José and Santa Clara with the San José Environmental Services Department serving as the operator and administrator. It serves more than 1.4 million residents and over 17,000 businesses in eight Silicon Valley cities including San José, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno.

The Regional Wastewater Facility also manages the South Bay Water Recycling program, delivering highly treated recycled water to 700 customers in San José, Santa Clara, and Milpitas, which saves over 2.2 billion gallons of drinking water a year. The RWF also provides 10 million gallons daily of treated wastewater to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Silicon Valley Water Purification Center as part of an innovative clean water demonstration project.


This news release is available online at