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Kirk Diversion Dam Replacement and Fish Screen Project

In November 2013, the Santa Clara Valley Water District completed installation of a more efficient inflatable system on the Kirk Dam in Los Gatos Creek that will make it easier for field crews to provide flood protection and save water for groundwater recharge during the winter.

The $810,000 project replaced a steel-paneled flashboard dam that held back water in the channel to replenish the groundwater basin. Water from the dam diverts to the Kirk and Page recharge facilities year-round except during periods when it’s expected Lexington Reservoir spills.

At that time, the district would remove the diversion dam to improve conveyance of high flows through the dam site, but that often required days of advance notification for crews to drain the water behind the dam and remove and reinstall it. The installation process had taken up to three days and required up to eight people to do the job. Now with the push of a button, the rubber dam can inflate or deflate within 30 minutes.

Another aspect of the work included placing two fish screens in front of the diversion turnout to keep fish, frogs and turtles in the creek. Completion of the project accomplishes the following objectives:

  • Preserves the district’s ability to exercise its water rights consistent with board policy EL-7.6
  • Maximizes the use of the dam without increasing the risk of flooding consistent with board policy E-2.2
  • Minimizes exposure of staff to a potentially hazardous environment during removal and reinstallation of the dam.
  • Performs operations and maintenance in a more environmentally sensitive manner by minimizing the need for construction equipment or activities in streams and entrainment of aquatic species in recharge systems consistent with board policy E-1.
Kirk Dam is located on Los Gatos Creek in the town of Los Gatos about 2,000-feet northwest of the intersection of Highways 85 and 17. The Kirk-Page turnout that controls diversion of the water is located on the east bank of Los Gatos Creek, about 70-feet upstream of the dam.

Water district contacts:
For more information about this project, contact: