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Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project

About This Project

The Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project is located within the City of Milpitas. The project’s study limit extends approximately one mile from the north at its confluence with Coyote Creek to the south at San Andreas Drive. (Download Project Fact Sheet)

The one-mile study limit is indicated on the map to the right. This area of creek receives some of its water from Berryessa Creek. Construction has begun on improvements to Berryessa Creek that will bring more creek flows into this one mile stretch of creek. Lower Penitencia Creek must be able to carry this increased flow.

In its current condition, Lower Penitencia Creek does not have the capacity to convey the increased flow (the future one-percent flood event - also known as the 100 year event*). This project is necessary to maintain the current existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accreditation along the east levee located between California Circle and Berryessa Creek. At the completion of the project improvements for the Lower Penitencia and Berryessa Creek Projects, the Santa Clara Valley Water District will update the FEMA flood insurance maps accordingly.

*A 100-year flood, sometimes called a one-percent flood event, is a rare and large storm event which has a 1-in-100 chance of occurring in any given year.

Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project Map
On Target
Milpitas, CA
Start 2013 / Finish end 2022
Valley Water's Watershed Stream Stewardship Fund and California Department of Water Resources Proposition 1E grant ($27 million)
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

Construction crews are working from Milmont Drive downstream to Highway 880 in Milpitas, during the weekdays, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. However, crews will continue to work on establishing the new native plants.

The safety of trail users, neighbors, and workers is a priority for Valley Water. The contractor will periodically open the section of the trail between North Abbott Avenue and Milmont Drive when work is not scheduled for this creek area, and the trail’s condition is safe for public use. The periods when the trail is opened will vary based on project needs.

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To learn more about the project, click here to view the project shell with a map of the area, benefits, and timeline.

For more information: 

Reports & Documents

Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project - Final Environmental Impact Report (November 2017)

Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project - PLANNING STUDY REPORT - May 2016

Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project - Staff Recommended Alternative Report - September 2015

Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project - Problem Definition and Refined Objectives Report - July 2013

Lower Berryessa Creek Program Final Environmental Impact Report - December 2011

Valley Water held public meetings to obtain input on the alternatives and EIR

Project alternatives presented to the community in 2014:

Community update and Draft Environmental Impact Report meeting from May 2017:

Valley Water held an informational virtual meeting to provide neighbors an update on the project, its benefits, and what to expect during construction. Here are the meeting materials:

- Agenda 

- Presentation slides

- Meeting recording 

Environmental & Community Benefits

The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Lower Penitencia Creek Improvements Project, when completed, will increase the channel capacity to carry increased water flows from the Berryessa Creek Flood Protection Project.


  • Maintain existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accreditation along the east levee located between California Circle and Berryessa Creek
  • Minimize the need for seasonal removal of sediment and non-woody vegetation, which minimizes future maintenance costs
  • Enhances stream habitat
  • Creates additional wetlands

Geographic Area of Benefit

                Milpitas, CA

History & Background

Lower Penitencia Creek channel improvements were constructed in 1955, 1962, 1965, and in the early 1980's. The existing channel within the project's reach was improved at multiple locations in the 1980s. The channel improvements consisted of various modifications to the creek to increase capacity. In the reaches north of the confluence with Lower Berryessa Creek, the channel was widened and levees were raised .

This project will prevent flooding from the channel caused by future larger flows from Berryessa Creek.*

* Flooding in nearby areas caused by another creek will be addressed in a separate project.

Lower Penitencia Creek in Milpitas