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D5: Ecological Data Collection and Analysis*

About This Project

This project continues to build and update watershed data to track stream ecosystem conditions, helping Valley Water and other county agencies and organizations make informed watershed, asset management and natural resource decisions. The new and updated information will be used to develop or modernize integrated watershed plans (such as watershed profiles, One Water Plan and Stream Corridor Priority Plans) that identify potential projects, support grant applications, environmental analyses and permits, and are shared with land use agencies, environmental groups, and the public to make efficient and coordinated environmental decisions throughout the county. These data and plans will help integrate and enhance Valley Water’s programs, projects, maintenance and stewardship actions through standardized, repeatable and defensible measurements that guide, organize and integrate information on stream and habitat conditions.

Measuring changes in ecological conditions through time allows Valley Water, resource agencies, land managers and the public to understand and respond to climate change effects and evolving creek and habitat conditions.

 

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

VW biologists conduct CRAM survey on SCC creek
VW biologists conduct CRAM survey on SCC creek
Datapoints
Status
On Target
Location
Countywide
Schedule
Start FY 2022 / Finish 2036
Funding
Safe, Clean Water Fund ($7.5 million); Watershed Stream Stewardship Fund
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

KPI #1: Reassess and track stream ecological conditions and habitats in each of the county’s five (5) watersheds every 15 years.

The 2020 Coyote Creek watershed reassessment report is now available! The report summarizes the ecological condition of creeks in the Coyote Creek watershed in 2020 and compares those results to the original assessment in 2010.

Baseline ecological condition assessments for Coyote Creek and other Santa Clara County watersheds can be found under Reports & Documents.

Project D5 uses the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) to assess the ecological condition of creeks in Santa Clara County’s five major watersheds and document changes over time. You can learn more about the methodology here: https://www.cramwetlands.org/

CRAM survey crews at work on Coyote Creek

CRAM scores were part of the technical basis for the Coyote Creek Native Ecosystem Enhancement Tool (CCNEET). You can learn more about this online ecological enhancement planning tool here.

The CRAM scores that that form the basis of the watershed assessments, and for numerous County creeks, lakes, and wetlands, can be accessed on EcoAtlas.

KPI #2: Provide up to $500,000 per 15-year period toward the development and updates of five (5) watershed plans that include identifying priority habitat enhancement opportunities in Santa Clara County.

The first $100,000 of this funding is being considered for a detailed riparian corridor assessment and tool development for Guadalupe River watershed. This would be consistent with the approach used for Coyote Creek with CCNEET (see above). Work considered for Guadalupe River watershed would be coordinated as part of a larger Guadalupe Watershed Plan under Valley Water’s One Water Plan and countywide framework.

Updated November 2021

For more information:

Ecological condition of creeks in Santa Clara County’s five major watersheds using the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) (“SCC 5 Watersheds” is all of the watersheds combined)
Ecological condition of creeks in Santa Clara County’s five major watersheds combined, using the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM), compared with those in the San Francisco Bay Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecoregion and California statewide

Click here for an enlarged version of the above chart.

 

Reports & Documents

The first, or baseline, assessments of stream ecological condition in each of Santa Clara County’s five major watersheds are available here:

Synthesis report of stream ecological condition in all five of Santa Clara County’s major watersheds (2020), with comparisons between the watersheds and with statewide and San Francisco Bay Delta ecoregion. Examples applying CRAM to project and mitigation performance, and a watershed approach are also provided.

The reassessment of stream ecological condition in the Coyote Creek watershed (2020), which includes a comparison with the 2010 results, is now available.

2015 State of the Estuary overview poster: Stream health of the Coyote Creek and Guadalupe River watersheds using California's Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP).

2017 presentation: Using the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) to Quantify Riverine Riparian Condition in Santa Clara County Watersheds.

Related Information:

Environmental & Community Benefits

Key Performance Indicators (FY22–36)

  1. Reassess and track stream ecological conditions and habitats in each of the county’s five (5) watersheds every 15 years.

  2. Provide up to $500,000 per 15-year period toward the development and updates of five (5) watershed plans that include identifying priority habitat enhancement opportunities in Santa Clara County.

Benefits

  • Improves natural resource, watershed and asset management decisions

  • Provides a systematic, scientific guide for decisions and actions to improve stream conditions

  • Supports effective and environmentally sound design options

  • Provides reliable data on countywide stream conditions and basis for measuring the success of past mitigation and environmental stewardship project projects

  • Facilitates a watershed approach to resource management, permitting and restoration planning

  • Addresses climate change

Geographic Area of Benefit

Countywide

History & Background

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.

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.