Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership
This project continues a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) to plan, design and construct improvements along 4.2 miles of Upper Penitencia Creek from the confluence with Coyote Creek to Dorel Drive. Part of the project will protect the area around the Bay Area Rapid Transit's Berryessa station near King Road, which would otherwise be subject to flooding.
The natural creek channel will be preserved while adjacent existing open space and parkland will remain as recreational areas, only rarely taking the role as a temporary floodplain so that floodwaters do not enter surrounding neighborhoods and commercial areas. Proposed construction measures may include modified floodplains, levees, flood walls, bypass channels, and fish passage improvements. Existing Valley Water water supply facilities may also be modified to protect habitat and improve water supply reliability.
The $41.9 million ($48.9 million in inflated dollars) in local funding from Safe, Clean Water allows Valley Water to move ahead with the planning, design and construction of the project.
The Upper Penitencia Creek Project is a unique and multi-benefit effort currently in the planning stage with goals to:
• Reduce flood risk.
• Maintain and enhance water supply.
• Provide for trails and recreation.
• Maintain and improve the creek’s habitat.
Materials from the May 15, 2019, Upper Penitencia Creek Project public meeting:
Staff provided an update on the feasible alternatives which reflected the public input received at the October 2018 public meeting.
Materials from the October 2, 2018 public meeting:
- PowerPoint Presentation Oct. 2
- Upper Penitencia Creek project information
- Draft Conceptual Alternatives
Preferred project with federal and local funding:
No federal funding has been provided from USACE for this project (2018).
Valley Water continues to work on the local-funding-only option planning study with a streamlined planning process.
In March 2017, Valley Water partnered with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to conduct a landscape concept workshop to develop alternatives in-line with the Integrated Water Resources Planning effort (One Water). SFEI developed a memo summarizing the workshop presentations and findings.
In order to better develop alternatives from the SFEI workshop and help tailor the conceptual plan to better meet the needs of Valley Water and its partners, an internal expertise team was created which includes Valley Water staff from flood protection, water supply, wildlife habitat and natural resources. This internal expertise team took part in several workshops in January and March 2018 to help develop a conceptual vision that will meet the multi-objectives of the Project.
In 2018, Valley Water held a workshop with partner agencies, including the science panel from the first SFEI landscape workshop, to finalize the concepts for the full Vision Report, which was completed in December 2018.
Valley Water completed the Problem Definition Report in spring 2019.
- In winter 2017, the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee recommended that the Upper Penitencia Creek Project be reduced to only the planning phase and that the funds be reallocated to complete flood risk reduction along 9 miles of Coyote Creek from Montague Expressway to Tully Road. However, on May 23, 2018 the Valley Water Board of Directors (Board) decided to take “no action” on the proposed modification to the Upper Penitencia Creek Project and instead decided to re-evaluate both projects after the planning study report for each project is completed or substantially advanced. After further analysis, the planning team decided to divide the project into the following phases:
- Phase I – Reach 1 (Coyote Creek confluence up to King Rd);
- Phase II – Reaches 2 & 3 (King Rd up to Capital Ave); and
- Phase III – Reaches 4 through 7 (Capital Ave up to Dorel Dr).
The Recommended Project was to move forward with Phases I & II: complete design and construction of reaches 1, 2 and 3 (Coyote Creek confluence up to Capital Ave). The Recommended Project was presented to the CIP Committee, and with their support, presented to the Board on December 10, 2019, the Board approved the Recommended Project and the project team and the project team prepared to move forward with design and construction.
- The project team is finishing the planning phase and expects to transition into design by the end of calendar year 2020. The project team continues to work on the Planning Study Report (PSR), preliminary Plan & Profile Sheets (Plans), and a geomorphology study to assist in the channel restoration aspects. The PSR and preliminary Plans are expected to be finalized by November 2020. The geomorphology study may extend into the initial stages of design and is expected to be completed by March 2021.
Updated July 2020
SFEI Vision Report
Key Performance Indicators for the Safe, Clean Water Program
Preferred project with federal and local funding: Construct a flood protection project to provide 1% flood protection to 5,000 homes, businesses and public buildings.
With local funding only: Acquire all necessary rights-of-way and construct a 1% flood protection project from Coyote Creek confluence to King Road.
Preferred project provides 1% flood protection to approximately 5,000 homes, schools and businesses. Locally-funded-only project provides 1% flood protection to the proposed rapid transit station and areas downstream from King Road.
Reduces sedimentation and maintenance requirements
Improves water quality in Coyote Creek
Provides opportunities for recreation improvements consistent with the City of San José and Santa Clara County Park master plans
Geographic Area of Benefit
Flooding History and Project Background
Upper Penitencia is a major tributary of Coyote Creek, flowing westerly from Alum Rock Park through the residential neighborhoods of Berryessa and Alum Rock in San José. More than 5,000 homes, schools and businesses are located in this floodplain, including many high-tech and commercial industries supporting the greater Silicon Valley.
With the capacity to carry less than a 10-year event, Upper Penitencia Creek has spilled its banks at least 7 times since the District began preparing flood reports in 1967. Damaging flood events occurred in 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1995, and 1998, impacting many homes, businesses and surface streets.
Potential damages from a 1% (or 100-year) flood event are estimated at $455 million (in 2004 dollars, according to a USACE economic analysis), with average annual damages estimated at $30.5 million for the full reach from the Coyote Creek confluence to Dorel Drive.
The preferred project would build on a 1981 tri-party agreement between the District, the City of San José, and Santa Clara County to preserve open land and provide flood protection along the Upper Penitencia Creek corridor. As a result of the agreement, 78 acres have been permanently preserved as Penitencia Creek County Park and Penitencia Creek Trail. A 4-mile, intermittent trail follows Upper Penitencia Creek from 700-acre Alum Rock Regional Park to its confluence with Coyote Creek. In addition to much-needed flood protection, this project will help provide the opportunity for the City of San José and Santa Clara County to complete the long-planned trail and linear park.
About the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program
In November 2012 the voters of Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure B, the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, as a countywide special parcel tax for 15 years with a sunset date of June 30, 2028. This Program replaced the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, which voters approved in November 2000.
The Safe, Clean Water Program was developed with input from more than 16,000 residents and stakeholders and was created to match the community’s needs and values. The voters of Santa Clara County identified five priorities:
Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
Priority C: Protect our Water Supply from Earthquakes and Natural Disasters
Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools and Highways
Other: Six projects from the Clean, Safe, Creeks Plan have been carried forward into the Safe, Clean Water Program
Each year, Valley Water prepares a report providing a progress update for each of these Program priorities, along with fiscal year accomplishments.
To ensure transparency and accountability to the voters, the ballot measure also created an Independent Monitoring Committee, appointed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. The Independent Monitoring Committee annually reviews the Program’s progress to ensure the outcomes are achieved in a cost-efficient manner and reports its findings to the Board.
In addition, the Program requires three independent audits, the first of which was conducted in FY 2017.