This project helps restore and maintain healthy fish populations, especially steelhead, by improving fish passage and habitat. Sites may include Alamitos Creek at Almaden Lake and County of Santa Clara-owned Ogier Ponds, where humanmade creek alterations disrupt fish migration. Project D4, which includes coordinating and partnering with other external parties, incorporates studies of streams throughout the county to determine what and where habitat improvements will most benefit steelhead. These studies can be used by regional partners to implement complementary habitat enhancements.
The project also continues funding to place instream gravel, boulders, large wood, or other features to enhance fish habitat at appropriate locations. By adding natural stream features such as large wood, we can create habitat to provide refuge during fish migration, prolonged drought, or extreme rainfall events. Additionally, habitat restoration can improve ecosystem function and increase resiliency to climate change. By restoring natural functions, issues such as water quality may be less exacerbated and native species can continue to flourish and adapt.
See Environmental & Community Benefits section for complete description of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
KPI #1: (Planning, design for creek/lake separation)
- A Master License Agreement (MLA) to facilitate Valley Water’s access and planning study investigations on Santa Clara County Parks land is in development.
- Preliminary conceptual alternatives development for the planning study is underway.
- The project is coordinating with the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit (ADSRP) project team to include the project in ADSRP permitting.
- A Memorandum of Agreement to continue the planning study will be completed with the landowner, Santa Clara County Parks, following execution of the MLA.
KPI #2: (Construct creek/lake separation)
- On May 11, 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors (Board) approved the Almaden Lake Improvement Project as the creek/lake separation project to be constructed under Project D4. The Board also certified the Final Environmental Impact Report. Click here to read the report.
- In FY22, Valley Water refined 60% design plans, specifications and cost estimate for the Almaden Lake Improvement Project.
- Valley Water continues to work with the City of San José on the project design for the new park area. Pending permit acquisition, construction could start as early as June 2024 (FY24).
KPI #3: (Fish passage improvements)
In October 2021, the City of San José, in partnership with Valley Water, completed the construction of a new interim pedestrian bridge, replacing the Singleton Road low-water crossing at Coyote Creek. Valley Water Board approved the cost-share agreement in June 2021 and in July 2021, Valley Water provided $1.0 million in cost-share funding to the city for construction. Valley Water also provided the city with project design services and permitting assistance. The low-water crossing was a barrier to fish passage and its removal increased migratory fish access to about 17 miles of upstream Coyote Creek area with better, cold-water habitat. Valley Water will continue to monitor the project until 2031.
KPI #4: (Steelhead stream study update)
- In FY22 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) Valley Water began research to determine which creek sections to target for a new quantitative fish passage barrier and prioritization analysis. Two streams are expected to be selected and work will begin in FY23.
- Update on the 2012 Program Funded Study:
- In FY23, Valley Water will complete the second phase of the study to identify high-priority locations for gravel augmentation and large woody debris placement. The second phase covered six steelhead streams in the county, namely Llagas, Pacheco, Los Trancos, San Francisquito and Calero creeks and Pajaro River. The first phase of the study, which was completed in FY18, assessed Alamitos, Guadalupe, Los Gatos, Uvas, Upper Penitencia, Coyote and Stevens creeks and Guadalupe River. Conceptual designs for eight priority sites identified in the second phase study are under development.
KPI #5: (Habitat enhancement projects)
In June 2022, Valley Water began construction of the Uvas Creek Fish Habitat Improvement Project, which includes large woody debris and gravel augmentation (LWDGA) along Uvas Creek in the City of Gilroy. The project was completed in August 2022.
The project was designed to increase instream habitat diversity, shelter complexity and the amount of instream shelter at three sites along Uvas Creek. The design of Site 1, located approximately 1200 feet downstream of Santa Teresa Boulevard, consists of an engineered log jam (ELJ) of rootwad logs on the right bank intended to create hydraulic complexity and increase shelter cover and complexity. The ELJs for Sites 2 and 3, located 1500 feet and 600 feet respectively upstream of Miller Avenue, include a bar apex jam at each site designed to cause channel bifurcation and increase habitat complexity.
Outreach coordination with the City is ongoing, and this project is featured on City’s website: https://ca-gilroy.civicplus.com/860/Outside-Agency-Construction-Projects
This project was also featured in the Gilroy Dispatch: https://gilroydispatch.com/uvas-creek-work-aims-help-fish/
- Ogier Ponds Feasibility Study (March 2018)
- Study of Major Steelhead Streams – Phase 1 Report
- Almaden Lake Improvement Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (December 2019)
- Almaden Lake Improvement Project Final Environmental Impact Report (May 2021)
Key Performance Indicators (FY22-36)
Complete planning and design for one (1) creek/lake separations.
Construct one (1) creek/lake separation project in partnership with local agencies.
Use $8 million for fish passage improvements by June 30, 2028.
Update study of all major steelhead streams in the county to identify priority locations for fish migration barrier removal and installation of large woody debris and gravel as appropriate.
Complete five (5) habitat enhancement projects based on studies that identify high priority locations for large wood, boulders, gravel, and/or other habitat enhancement features.
Improves habitat and passage for steelhead and other native fish within Santa Clara County watersheds
Contributes to required mitigation for environmental impacts of reservoir and recharge operations and countywide Stream Maintenance Program
Maintains investment in earlier habitat improvements
Addresses climate change
Geographic Area of Benefit
About the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program
In November 2020, voters in Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure S, a renewal of Valley Water’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.
The program was first passed by voters in 2000 as the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, then again in 2012 as the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The renewal of the Safe, Clean Water Program will continue to provide approximately $47 million annually for local projects that deliver safe, clean water, natural flood protection, and environmental stewardship to all the communities we serve in Santa Clara County.
While evaluating ways to improve the 2012 program, Valley Water gathered feedback from more than 21,000 community members. That helped Valley Water create the six priorities for the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program, which are:
Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply
Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways
Priority C: Protect our Water Supply and Dams from Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space
Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools, Streets and Highways
Priority F: Support Public Health and Public Safety for Our Community
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. Additionally, the IMC also reviews each proposed 5-year implementation plan prior to its submittal for Board approval.
In addition, the program requires three independent audits.