Stream Maintenance Program | Santa Clara Valley Water
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Stream Maintenance Program

Berryessa sediment removal: before and after

Valley Water's Stream Maintenance Program (SMP) ensures flood protection projects continue to function as designed to protect homes and businesses along Valley Water streams.

For more information on 2019 projects, please visit the 2019 Stream Maintenance Program (SMP) Project Site.

Download the Stream Maintenance Program Manual 2019-2023 (DRAFT, March 17, 2020) 

Thanks to various flood protection projects completed by Valley Water, some homes and businesses have been removed from FEMA-designated flood zones, and in addition to flood risk reduction activities, save residents countywide over $2 million in flood insurance premiums each year. Once those flood protection projects are completed, Valley Water’s Stream Maintenance Program ensures those projects continue to function as designed to protect homes and businesses along water streams.

  • There are more than 800 miles of creeks in Santa Clara County. Valley Water owns 278 miles of streams in the county, but only a portion of these have been modified with flood protection projects. Those are the streams that are maintained by Valley Water.

Valley Water crews regularly inspect stream and bank conditions. Toward the end of the rain season, staff finalize the proposed work plan for the upcoming Stream Maintenance Program work season.

From June to October, after securing state and federal regulatory agencies’ approval of the work plan, our crews trek into streams to remove sediment, manage vegetation, clear trash and debris, and stabilize banks that have been eroded. While the heavy work takes place in the summer, stream maintenance is a year-round effort.

During heavy storms, unruly vegetation and sediment washed down from areas upstream can restrict the flow of water and in some areas, cause a back-up, increasing the risk of flooding. Valley Water monitors known “hot spots” for vegetation and debris buildups and where needed and safe to do so, take action to remove these blockages and reduce the threat of localized flooding.

Stream maintenance work also includes an integrated vegetation management program which provides many benefits. Removal of in-stream vegetation ensures flow conveyance. Upland vegetation management is performed to meet fire code compliance and maintenance access. Native planting and invasive plant removal projects improve the ecological habitat of the riparian ecosystem.

  • If you observe a problem in any creek in our service area, you can report it on our "Access Valley Water" online customer request and information system. This is the best way to alert our field crews of downed branches, eroding banks, trash, graffiti or overgrown vegetation.