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D4: Fish Habitat and Passage Improvement*

About This Project

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This project helps restore and maintain healthy steelhead trout populations by improving fish passage and habitat. Possible work sites include Alamitos Creek at Almaden Lake and Ogier Ponds in the Coyote watershed, where man-made creek alterations disrupt fish migration. The project also includes studies of steelhead streams throughout the county to determine where improvements are needed to support spawning, rearing and migration. Funding also pays for the development of a program to use large woody debris to create fish habitat.

*This project was voter approved as part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.

Almaden Lake
Start FY 2014 / Finish FY 2023
Safe, Clean Water Fund ($29.5 million)
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

Key Performance Indicators for the Safe, Clean Water Program 

KPI #1: Complete planning and design for 2 creek/lake separations.

  • Site 1: Almaden Lake - The Draft EIR was released for public review in December 2019. The public review period ended in January 2020.

  • Site 2: Ogier Ponds - In October 2018, the Board approved a budget adjustment to provide Safe, Clean Water funds for completion of a planning study.  The Board directed staff to work with the landowner, Santa Clara County Parks, to develop a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to begin the planning study.  Valley Water is evaluating a maintenance approach as part of finalizing the MOA.

KPI #2: Construct 1 creek/lake separation project in partnership with local agencies. 

  • Currently 2 projects are in the planning phase and 1 will receive construction funding from the Safe, Clean Water Program. 

KPI #3: Use $6 million for fish passage improvements. 

  • Valley Water completed final design for the Bolsa Road Fish Passage Project. Because of the determination that the Project is not an essential project, it will be advertised for bids in late 2020 with construction to begin in 2021. The construction of the Project will be completed by the end of 2021.

  • The City of San José has completed a feasibility study related to the removal of the Singleton Road fish passage barrier. Valley Water is working on a partnership agreement with City of San José to provide support for City's effort to remove the Singleton Road Bridge and associated channel restoration. 

  • The Evelyn Bridge Fish Passage within Stevens Creek completed construction on November 21, 2015.

KPI #4: Conduct study of all major steelhead streams in the county to identify priority locations for installation of large wood debris and gravel as appropriate.  

  • The consultant contract to conduct a Phase 2 study covering remaining steelhead streams including Llagas Creek, Pacheco Creek, Los Trancos Creek, San Francisquito Creek, Calero Creek and the Pajaro River was approved by the Board during the June 25, 2019, Board meeting. The review of the relevant information and the refinement of selection criteria and tool developed during the Phase 1 study are currently underway.  The study will recommend high-priority locations for future gravel augmentation/large woody debris placement projects along the selected creeks; using selection criteria based on biological, geomorphic and flood risk consideration as well as site visits, to narrow down to 14 recommended locations covering all six (6) creeks.

KPI #5: Install large woody debris and/or gravel at a minimum of 5 sites (1 per each 5 major watersheds). 

  • In August, Valley Water completed the construction work of the Los Gatos Creek Gravel Augmentation and Large Woody Debris Placement Project located just downstream of Highway 17, one of Phase 1 Study recommended priority locations.  Gravel and large woody debris placement improves fish habitat by adding suitable creek bed materials for food and spawning and adds complexity to streamflow by reducing velocity and promoting channel stability, allowing riffles to form. These habitat complexities make it easier for fish to migrate provide areas to rest and seek refuge from predators. These modifications improve stream conditions for both adult and juvenile steelhead, as well as other native fish in the watershed.






Updated April 2020

For more information:

Creek/Lake Separations

Fish Passage Improvements

Large Woody Debris


Environmental & Community Benefits

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Key Performance Indicators

  1. Complete planning and design for 2 creek/lake separations.

  2. Construct 1 creek/lake separation project in partnership with local agencies.

  3. Use $6 million for fish passage improvements.

  4. Conduct study of all major steelhead streams in the county to identify priority locations for installation of large woody debris and gravel as appropriate.

  5. Install large woody debris and/or gravel at a minimum of 5 sites (1 per each of 5 major watersheds).


  • Improves spawning and rearing habitat within the Coyote, Guadalupe and other watersheds

  • Improves steelhead trout habitat

  • Helps provide required mitigation for environmental impacts of reservoir and recharge operations and for countywide Stream Maintenance Program

Geographic Area of Benefit


History & Background

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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.

View the Safe, Clean Water Program’s annual reports, annual IMC audit reports, and independent audits, including a staff response, on the Valley Water website.