City of San José, Tributary Agencies Continue Battle Over Treatment Plant

March 14, 2016
Tributary agencies allege misuse of funds; city of San José argues it has been transparent

Concerned that the City of San Jose may be misusing wastewater ratepayer funds for programs and projects not associated with wastewater treatment, a coalition of small wastewater tributary agencies has demanded the city immediately turn over all public records related to expenditures at the San José Santa Clara Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The tributary agencies believe the City of San José has used ratepayer funds for the benefit of San Jose only at the expense of smaller communities. They have suggested changes to the 33-year-old master legal agreement with the city.

The tributary agencies represent about 240,000 ratepayers and include the cities of Milpitas, Cupertino and Burbank, plus the Santa Clara County Sanitation District 2-3 and the West Valley Sanitation District, which collectively represent the communities of Los Gatos, Campbell, Monte Sereno and Saratoga and incorporated sections of Santa Clara County. The treatment plant is jointly owned by the city of Santa Clara and the city of San José, but it is operated and managed by San Jose.

The tributary agencies are arguing that San José has not been transparent regarding the planning and funding for Regional Wastewater Facility improvements. The city of San José argues that it has posted all reports, plans, budgets and discussions related to its capital improvement program on its website.

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.