Valley Water adopts new policy to address encroachment concerns | Santa Clara Valley Water
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Valley Water adopts new policy to address encroachment concerns

November 01, 2019
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Two important elements of Valley Water’s mission are to keep residents and businesses safe through our flood protection programs and to protect our natural environment.

In Santa Clara County, Valley Water owns and manages about 275 miles of streams, many of which are located next to neighborhoods. These public lands are entrusted to Valley Water to ensure public health and safety, maintain healthy creeks and protect the environment.

Over the decades, encroachments of Valley Water land by private landowners, particularly on unimproved natural creek sections, have become more prevalent. Since 2011, Valley Water has resolved more than 300 encroachments, many of which occurred by working together with property owners.

In order to take care of environmental concerns and maintain our facilities in a safe and effective manner, we have identified about 900 encroachments on public lands managed by Valley Water that require resolution. These encroachments include extended backyards (gardens, lawns, etc.), misaligned fences, and other structures.

Valley Water has implemented a new process to resolve these encroachments by working with our community. It includes a focus on education and community relationships, early notification and outreach to real estate professionals to notify future homeowners.

This new policy, recently adopted by the Valley Water Board of Directors, will be phased in. We will first address encroachments that pose health and safety issues or are located where we have projects planned in the next three years.

While we have the mission of flood protection, we also have the mission of stream stewardship. It’s just as important that we preserve and protect those properties to ensure that the species and the habitat are protected to the greatest extreme possible.

We believe we’ve achieved a program that both allows us to accomplish our missions of stream stewardship and flood protection but also treats our public neighbors with respect and collaboration.

Please check our interactive web map to get a better understanding of Valley Water’s land ownership relative to your area. Please note that GIS are approximate and should not be used to identify encroachment.


Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.