Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership
This project continues a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the State of California to plan, design and construct improvements along 13.9 miles of channel. The project extends from Buena Vista Avenue to Llagas Road and includes West Little Llagas Creek in downtown Morgan Hill. The federally authorized preferred project protects the urban area of Morgan Hill from a 1% flood (100-year event) and reduces the frequency of flooding in surrounding areas. Construction includes channel modifications and replacement of road crossings. Valley Water continues to work with Congress to aggressively pursue federal funds to bring this project to full fruition.
Construct flood protection improvements along Llagas Creek from Buena Vista Avenue to Highway 101 in San Martin (Reaches 4 and 5), Monterey Road to Watsonville Road in Morgan Hill (Reach 7a), approximately W. Dunne Avenue to W. Main Avenue (a portion of Reach 8), and onsite compensatory mitigation at Lake Silveira.
The project is being constructed in several phases with each phase having specific sections (referred to as reaches on the map) where the proposed improvements will occur. Phase 1 of the Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project began construction in September 2019 and the civil engineering improvements were completed ahead of schedule in April 2022. Following the completion of the civil improvements, the 3-year native plant establishment and maintenance period is on-going and is anticipated to be completed by May 2025. Phase 2A construction began in June 2021 in a portion of Reach 8 in downtown Morgan Hill from Ciolino Ave. to W. Main Ave. and is ongoing with an anticipated completion date of May 2024. See the latest project mailer here. This project is partially funded by the Safe, Clean Water Program, which helps Valley Water care for local waterways and provide flood protection to homes, schools, and businesses in Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy.
Phase 1: Valley Water Completes Project Construction
Phase 1 of the Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project began construction in September 2019 and was completed in April 2022, ahead of schedule. Valley Water Board approved a Notice of Partial Completion in May 2022. Phase 1 Project work included 4.4 miles of channel excavation, construction of the on-site compensatory mitigation at Lake Silveira wetlands, Masten Avenue Bridge concrete underpinning, Monterey Road Bridge concrete lining with a low flow channel for fish passage, installation of rock slope protection, storm drain outfall modifications, removal of concrete rubble, debris, and legacy trash, destruction of monitoring wells, installation of bat boxes, installation of permanent fencing and gates, removal of 12.5 acres of invasive blackberry bushes at Lake Silveira, planting of approximately 45,000 new, native plants on approximately 50 acres of Valley Water project property, and restoration of 2,000 linear feet of Llagas Creek adjacent to Lake Silveira. Completion of flood protection improvements occurred in April 2022, but is followed by a three-year native plant establishment and maintenance period that began in March 2022. The Phase 1 completion date for the three-year native plant establishment and maintenance period is anticipated to be completed in April 2025 (FY25).
Valley Water created a video of the completed new wetlands and Llagas Creek restoration work. A story on this work is also available on our Valley Water News blog.
In the early to late 1970s, Lake Silveira was an active quarry and presumably because of those operations, there was a significant amount of abandoned concrete rubble dispersed on and adjacent to Llagas Creek. Valley Water has removed the rubble and created new wetlands. Construction of the new wetland habitat at Lake Silveira included creating islands, constructing habitat features, constructing side-weir inlet and outlet structures, and planting thousands of native wetland and riparian plants that will become habitat for birds, frogs, turtles, and other wildlife. The Land Trust of Santa Clara Valley is Valley Water’s long-term land manager partner of the Lake Silveira wetlands.
During the 2020 and 2021 in-channel construction seasons, approximately 600,000 cubic yards (CY) of soil was excavated and removed from Upper Llagas Creek from Reaches 4, 5, 7A, and a portion of Reach 6 to increase the capacity of the creek channel during storm events. Rock slope protection was placed at existing bridge abutments for erosion and scour protection. Approximately 75,000 CY of nutrient-rich topsoil was placed along the creek banks to help support the dozens of acres of newly planted native riparian vegetation. Instream complexities, such as coarse woody debris and rootwad-log structures, were installed along the creek bottom throughout Phase 1 to serve as future habitat for native wildlife.
Valley Water executed a cost-sharing agreement (A4406S) with the City of Morgan Hill in October 2020 to construct a public trail within Reach 7A. The paved trail was completed by Valley Water on behalf of the city and was officially opened to the public on August 5, 2023. The city completed the construction of new pedestrian crosswalks at Middle Avenue and Watsonville Avenue in July 2023. The project is an example of Valley Water’s commitment to restoring wildlife habitat and providing open space for public use.
Phase 2A: Valley Water Project Construction Underway
Phase 2A construction began in June 2021 in a portion of Reach 8 in downtown Morgan Hill. Phase 2A includes approximately 2,300 linear feet of a horseshoe-shaped underground tunnel 14 x 12 feet and approximately 1,600 linear feet of 10 ft x 9 ft twin Reinforced Concrete Box Culverts (RCBs) upstream and downstream of the proposed tunnel to carry high water flows. Low flows will remain within the existing creek that traverses through downtown Morgan Hill in Reach 8. Completion of the underground tunnel portion of construction occurred in May 2023. The expected completion date for Phase 2A construction is May 2024 (FY24) and will include traffic control, detours, utility coordination and relocation, and public outreach. The project mailer with details on this phase and its construction impacts is available.
Valley Water executed a cost-sharing agreement (A4448S) with the City of Morgan Hill in April 2021 to construct an approximate 600-foot portion of the City’s Hale Avenue Extension Project including a fully signalized intersection at West Main Avenue as part of Phase 2A. Valley Water utilized the City property as staging to construct the necessary flood protection improvements. Phase 2A is an example of Valley Water’s and the City’s cooperation and commitment to save public funds while minimizing impacts to the community.
Phase 2B: Valley Water Working to Begin Project Construction
Phase 2B construction consists of approximately 1,900 linear feet of twin reinforced concrete box culverts (10 ft x 9 ft), creek modifications and excavation by widening and deepening, installation and modification of culverts at various street crossings, construction of an inlet basin weir split-flow structure, and bridge underpinning work. Valley Water will construct improvements on approximately eight (8) miles of Upper Llagas Creek, from US 101 upstream to Llagas Road. Construction will include creek widening and deepening, bridge/culvert construction, traffic control, utility coordination and relocation, construction of maintenance roads, and habitat enhancements. Construction is expected to take 2.5 years, followed by a 3-year plant establishment period.
The project requires purchasing approximately 105 parcels (76 permanent, 29 temporary) from private or public agency owners. Approximately 100 of these permanent acquisitions have been acquired to date, with the remaining parcels required for Phase 2B construction.
Phase 2B right-of-way requires the acquisition of four (4) additional parcels and six (6) temporary construction easements. These acquisitions are anticipated to be completed in FY24.
Phase 2B is currently seeking federal grant funding (approximately $80M) in order to complete this last remaining construction phase. Once federal grant funding is secured, anticipated by late 2023, Phase 2B would immediately be advertised for construction, with projected project completion by December 2026.
Valley Water will be executing a cost-sharing agreement with the City of Morgan Hill in early 2024 to improve the City’s Hale Avenue after completion of the underground flood protection improvements within Hale Avenue between West Main Avenue and Wright Avenue, including a fully signalized intersection at Wright Avenue as part of Phase 2B.
Valley Water and Boy Scout Troop 730
This past May 2023, Morgan Hill Boy Scout Troop 730 constructed a bat roost adjacent to Lake Silveira. The construction was the culmination of many days of planning and preparation in designing the bat roost. Approximately 15 troop and community members helped at various stages of the project.
Volunteers and troops design the bat roost.
Volunteers help with the roost.
The bat roost is done and installed. THANK YOU!
Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, Valley Water, as the lead agency for the Project, has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) to evaluate environmental impacts of the proposed Project
- Final Environmental Impact Report
- Draft Environmental Impact Report, May 19, 2014
Additional reports related to the Project can be found by clicking on the link below:
- Geotechnical Report (2006)
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Site Characterization Report (2012)
- Reach 4 and 5 Limited Phase II ESA (2003)
- Reach 4, 5, 6, and 7B – Phase I ESA Vol 1 (2003)
- Reach 4, 5, 6, and 7B – Phase I ESA Vol 2 (2003)
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Reach 5 and 6 – Phase I ESA (2002)
- Reach 8 – Phase I ESA (2003)
- Reach 14 – Phase I ESA(2005)
FY22-36 Key Performance Indicator for the Safe, Clean Water Program
Preferred project with federal and local funding: Plan, design and construct flood protection improvements along 13.9 miles of Upper Llagas Creek from Buena Vista Avenue to Llagas Road to provide flood protection to 1,100 homes, 500 businesses, and 1,300 agricultural acres, while improving stream habitat.
With local funding only: Construct flood protection improvements along Llagas Creek from Buena Vista Avenue to Highway 101 in San Martin (Reaches 4 and 5 (portion)), Monterey Road to Watsonville Road in Morgan Hill (Reach 7a), approximately W. Dunne Avenue to W. Main Avenue (portion of Reach 8), and onsite compensatory mitigation at Lake Silveira.
Provides 1% flood capacity for four (4) miles along West Little Llagas Creek within downtown Morgan Hill, protecting approximately 1,100 homes and 500 businesses
Provides 10% (10-year event) flood protection to approximately 1,300 agricultural acres in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin
Locally funded project provides improved flood protection for a limited number of homes and businesses in Morgan Hill
Improves stream habitat and fisheries
Creates additional wetlands
Improves stream water quality
Identifies opportunities to integrate recreation improvements with the City of Morgan Hill and others as appropriate
Addresses climate change
Geographic Area of Benefit
Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy
The area sustained damage in 1937, 1955, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1969, 1982, 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2009, many businesses and residences in downtown Morgan Hill were flooded under 1 foot of water.
The Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project was initially part of the voter-approved Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan (CSC Plan) that came into effect in Fiscal Year 2001-2002 (FY02).
The project entailed providing 1% flood protection for approximately 4.5 miles of the channel in the urban area of Morgan Hill; the remaining 9.4 miles of the channel within the rural areas would have approximately 10% level of flood protection.
Due to very little federal funding for the project, in 2009, the Valley Water Board and the City of Morgan Hill decided to proceed with the project using only local funding while still working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure federal funding. The City of Morgan Hill agreed to contribute up to $3 million towards the project design. As part of the CSC Plan, planning and 65% project design was completed. Upon certification of the Environmental Impact Report in June 2014, VW began acquisition of more than 100 parcels required for construction.
Voters Approve 2012 Safe, Clean Water Program
In November 2012, voters approved the 15-year Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program (2012 Program), which replaced the CSC Plan. The project was carried forward into the 2012 Program with two key performance indicators (KPIs). The preferred project with federal and local funding entailed providing flood protection to 1,100 homes, 500 businesses, and 1,300 agricultural acres while improving stream habitat. The local-funding only project focused on providing 100-year flood protection for Reach 7 only (up to W. Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill).
In 2020, the Valley Board modified the local-funding-only KPI #2 to “Construct flood protection improvements along Llagas Creek from Buena Vista Avenue to Highway 101 in San Martin (Reaches 4 and 5 (portion), Monterey Road to Watsonville Road in Morgan Hill (Reach 7a), approximately W. Dunne Avenue to W. Main Avenue (portion of Reach 8), and onsite compensatory mitigation at Lake Silveira.”
The modification increased the length of the locally funded project from approximately 2.9 miles to 4.9 miles in addition to constructing the onsite compensatory mitigation. Besides getting the most out of the available local dollars, this approach kept the project moving forward, shortening the construction window without inducing flooding downstream. This modification maximized the potential for external funding opportunities and also reflected improved collaboration with regulatory permitting agencies that require early mitigation for the project impacts. Details about the modification can be found at https://www.valleywater.org/sites/default/files/SCW_FY19%20ModificationsWithAttachments.pdf.
As part of the 2012 Program, Valley Water began Phase 1 construction in FY20 and Phase 2A in FY21.
Voters Approve the Renewed Safe, Clean Water Program
In November 2020, voters approved the renewed Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program (Safe, Clean Water Program), replacing the 2012 Program. The project has continued in the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program.
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.