Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership
This federally authorized project continues a project in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to plan, design and construct improvements along 5.5 miles of the 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.
USACE has initiated a General Re-evaluation Report (GRR) of the preferred project, which is anticipated to be completed by October 2023. The scope of the project may change as a result of the GRR findings.
The locally funded project entails constructing 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 (Reach 7). It also includes completing a gravel augmentation project along approximately 800 linear feet of the Upper Guadalupe River in San José, from approximately the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge to West Virginia Street Bridge to improve aquatic habitat for migrating steelhead and channel stability. Flood damage will be reduced through the local-funding-only project. However, protection from the 1% (100-year event) flood is not provided without completion of the entire Upper Guadalupe River Flood Protection Project.
Mitigation elements of the project, namely Reach 10B (from Curtner Avenue to Almaden Expressway) and Reach 12 (from Brahnam Lane to Blossom Hill Road), were completed in 2015 in partnerships with USACE. Construction on the gravel augmentation project is scheduled to begin in August 2021.
The approximately 5.5-mile-long project in San José is separated into seven sections known as reaches, numbered 6 through 12. Improvements include channel widening, floodwall and levee construction, replacement of road crossings, gravel augmentation and streamside vegetation planting.
Reach 6 Complete
In August 2021, Valley Water began constructing the Reach 6 Aquatic Habitat Improvement Project, which is part of the local-funding only project under KPI #2. Valley Water completed installing the two gravel sites in October 2021. Mitigation planting, the last element of the construction project, was completed in November 2021. Valley Water is currently monitoring the stability of the two gravel augmentation sites and will continue this effort until 2026.
USACE General Re-evaluation Report (GRR)
Since FY15 (July 2014 – June 2015), a lack of federal funding has stalled the design and construction of the flood protection elements of Reaches 7-12 (excluding Reach 10B and Reach 12). In January 2021, the USACE began a General Re-evaluation Study, a study to re-evaluate the scope of the project and the associated benefits and construction cost that can help make the project more competitive for federal funding. The GRR is expected to take approximately three years to complete. A new preferred project (KPI #1) and project schedule will be developed following the completion of the study in FY24 (July 2023 - June 2024). Meanwhile, if Valley Water were to assume the responsibility of continuing the design of the local-funding only project in FY24, project construction could be completed in FY29 (July 2028 – June 2029).
Right of Way
Valley Water acquired all the necessary rights of way for Reach 7 in 2019. The project has not received federal funding since FY15. Until the project secures federal funding, the acquisition of rights-of-way and/or the design and construction of Reaches 7 through 11 remains on hold.
Willow Glen Way Bridge of Reach 9
In 2007, Valley Water, in collaboration with the City of San José, replaced the Willow Glen Way Bridge along Reach 9 with a longer-span bridge. The new bridge, east of Bird Avenue, was built to accommodate future channel widening to convey greater flows and provide flood protection while improving traffic and pedestrian safety.
Reaches 7 and 8
In 2019, the project did not receive federal funding to complete the design of Reaches 7 and 8. The USACE is updating the total project cost while continuing to seek federal funding to complete the reach’s design and construction.
Reaches 10B and 12
Valley Water and USACE completed Reach 10B, which runs between Wren Drive and McBride Loop, in 2012. The project restored the waterway to a more natural environment by providing a meandering channel, pools, in-stream features such as stream logs, to allow gravel and sediment deposition and improve stream habitat.
In 2016, Valley Water and USACE completed work on more than a mile stretch of the river channel critical to the larger project. Set between Branham Lane and Blossom Hill Road, the area had available land to improve habitat along the river to offset the loss of habitat areas further downstream, where river widening for the overall flood protection project had to occur. The project improved habitat for native fish like steelhead trout and Chinook salmon by planting native vegetation and trees along the river and stabilizing the low flow channel. With the addition of access roads and ramps, maintenance crews now have easier access to the river channel.
In 2019, the USACE submitted a draft operations and maintenance manual for Reaches 10B and 12 to Valley Water for review. The USACE finalized the manual in September 2019 and transferred operations and maintenance responsibilities for Reaches 10B and 12 to Valley Water.
FY22-36 Key Performance Indicator for the Safe, Clean Water Program
Preferred project with federal and local funding: Construct a flood protection project to provide 1% (100-year) flood protection to 6,280 homes, 320 businesses and 10 schools and institutions.
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, and provide gravel augmentation along approximately 800 linear feet of the Upper Guadalupe River in San José, from approximately the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge to West Virginia Street Bridge to improve aquatic habitat for migrating steelhead and channel stability.
Preferred project will construct 1% 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 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 to convey 1% flow
Improves stream habitat values and fisheries
Improves stream water quality
Allows for creekside trail access
Addresses climate change
Geographic Area of Benefit
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 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.