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E8: Upper Guadalupe River Flood Protection*

About This Project

Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership

This federally authorized project continues a Clean, Safe Creeks project in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to plan, design and construct improvements along 5.5 miles of channel extending from Interstate 280 to Blossom Hill Road. Improvements include channel widening, construction of floodwalls and levees, replacement of road crossings and planting of streamside vegetation. Reducing flood frequency and bank erosion will improve water quality, while planned mitigation measures will give fish access to an additional 12 miles of habitat within and upstream of the project reach.


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

Looking at Almaden Expressway Bridge
On Target
Design and Construction
San José
Start FY 2014 / Finish FY 2025
Safe, Clean Water Fund ($94.2 million); Watershed Stream Stewardship Fund; State of California; City of San José
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

Valley Water continues to acquire right-of-way for Reaches 7, 8, 9, 10A, 10C and 11. It expects to acquire all necessary right-of-way for Reaches 7 and 8 by early 2019 and all reaches by 2021. The design and construction of theses reaches will require federal funding.

Federal funding to complete the design for Reaches 7 and 8, however, was not authorized this year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is evaluating the total project costs before seeking additional funding in 2019 to complete the design and construction of the project. Construction on the Willow Street and Alma Avenue vehicular bridges and Reach 7 bypass are on hold until funding is identified.

For Reaches 12 and 10B, USACE is developing the operations and maintenance manual for Valley Water in preparation for a formal project handoff to Valley Water at the end of December 2019. Valley Water completed mitigation planting for Reach 12 in March 2018. 


Updated April 2019 

For more information:


Environmental & Community Benefits

Key Performance Indicators for the Safe, Clean Water Program 

  1. Preferred project with federal and local funding: Construct a flood protection project to provide 1% flood protection to 6,280 homes, 320 businesses and 10 schools and institutions.

  2. With local funding only: Construct flood protection improvements along 4,100 feet of Guadalupe River between the Southern Pacific Railroad (SPRR) crossing downstream of Willow Street to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) crossing downstream of Padres Drive. Flood damage will be reduced; however, protection from the 1% flood is not provided until completion of the entire Upper Guadalupe River Project.


  • Preferred project will construct 1% (or 100-year) flood conveyance capacity for 5.5 miles of channel in San José, protecting approximately 6,280 homes, 320 businesses and 10 schools/institutions

  • Local funding only constructs improvements to 4,100 linear feet to convey 1% flow

  • Improves stream habitat values and fisheries

  • Improves stream water quality

  • Allows for creek side trail access

Geographic Area of Benefit 

San José 

History & Background

Flooding History and Project Background

Damaging flood events occurred in 1982, 1983, 1986, 1995 and 1998. Severe flooding in 1995 damaged more than 150 homes in the Gardner, Willow Glen, and South San José residential districts, and shut down Highway 87 and the parallel light rail line – both major commuter thoroughfares. Freeway and light rail flooding occurred again in 1998.

The Upper Guadalupe River Flood Protection project was authorized construction by the USACE in 1999 and received local funding in 2000, followed by the start of construction in 2008. Fish passage, erosion protection and other components were constructed earlier.

To increase the level of flood protection while keeping the preferred project viable, the local-only plan funded by Clean, Safe Creeks was modified by the District Board in March 2012 to provide a basis to advance the full federal project as soon as funds become available. The plan is now to acquire all necessary rights-of-way and relocate bridges and utilities in preparation for the full, preferred project. The modified plan also includes design and construction for both Reach 6 (Interstate 280 to the Union Pacific Railroad crossing) and Reach 12 (Branham Lane to Blossom Hill Road).

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 District website.