This project will provide flood protection for thousands of homes and businesses in Mountain View and Los Altos, create recreational opportunities and enhance the environment. The project spans 10.6 miles of Permanente Creek, from San Francisco Bay’s southwest shoreline through Mountain View to Foothill Expressway in Los Altos. The project uses a natural flood protection approach to prevent potential flooding damages in excess of $48 million (1999 value). The project includes multiple elements: channel improvements; flood detention area and recreational improvements at City of Mountain View’s McKelvey Park; and flood detention areas, recreational improvements and enhanced habitat at County of Santa Clara’s Rancho San Antonio Park.
*This project was voter approved as part of the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan.
Permanente Creek Floodwall Retrofit Project
As part of Valley Water's ongoing efforts to provide flood protection to surrounding neighborhoods and businesses, the Permanente Creek Floodwall Retrofit Project started construction this January 2023 and continues through the end of April 2023. The Permanente Creek Trail will have a temporary detour at Charleston Rd. and Old Middlefield Rd. to allow crews to safely and efficiently complete the project. The work involves retrofitting the foundations of approximately 1,300 feet of floodwalls along the eastern bank of Permanente Creek between Charleston Rd. and US Highway 101 in Mountain View. The foundations will be reinforced and widened to increase the floodwall's stability.
The project notice is available to download.
Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project (completed)
This project was completed with funding from the voter-approved 2012 Safe, Clean Water Program and included four flood protection elements at different parts of Permanente Creek. See below for specific information about the flood detention basins at the county's Rancho San Antonio Park and Mountain View's McKelvey Park and the channel improvements elements.
Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) Update (March 2023)
All of the flood protection measures for the Permanente Creek Project are complete. Valley Water started the federal application process, known as Letter of Map Revision (LOMR), to revise the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reflect the flood protection provided by the project. These maps are part of the National Flood Insurance Program and are used to establish Special Flood Hazard Areas (i.e., FEMA’s 100-year floodplain), determine flood insurance rates, and help the community with floodplain management.
Completed LOMR progress milestones:
- April 2022: Valley Water submitted the LOMR application to FEMA
- July 2022: FEMA provided the first round of comments to Valley Water
- Oct 2022: Valley Water responded to the first round of comments
- Jan 2023: Second round of comments received from FEMA
- March 2023: Valley Water responded to FEMA’s second round of comments (FEMA has 90 days to respond)
What happens next
FEMA will review Valley Water’s submittal within 90 days. Although not anticipated, there could be additional review rounds. Once all comments are resolved, FEMA will approve the LOMR, followed by a 4 to 5-month public review and appeals period. Assuming no appeals are filed, the LOMR would then become effective. Valley Water will notify property owners of the flood zone designation change and the proposed date when the maps would become effective once FEMA has approved the LOMR.
FEMA’s LOMR Process
FEMA’s process is thorough to ensure that completed projects meet all flood protection and safety standards. The process takes 1-2 years to complete. Valley Water does everything possible to keep the process moving and responds promptly to FEMA’s comments.
Here is the process that results in Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM):
- Review, comments, and responses between FEMA and Valley Water:
- Each round of comments takes 180 days: 90 days for FEMA review, and 90 days for Valley Water to respond.
- There may be additional rounds of comments, typically, there are at least two rounds.
- After the review period, the public is notified of an upcoming appeals period:
- Notices are published in the Federal Register and local newspapers twice (typically 2-3 weeks).
- The required appeals period lasts 4.5 months.
- If no appeals are filed, the LOMR becomes effective after the appeals period closes. If appeals are filed, the process will take longer, depending on the nature of the appeals.
Valley Water will provide updates as it moves through the process. Visit FEMA’s website to learn more about the LOMR process.
Aerial Project Video
Valley Water developed a video of the completed Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project with aerial images of all the project elements. Click here to see the video.
Rancho San Antonio Detention Basin (completed)
This detention basin element was completed in June 2021. Valley Water held a zoom event to celebrate the completion of the civil construction of the Rancho San Antonio Detention Basin, the last element of the Project. To view the event video or the aerial video of the 10-mile stretch of the project, visit the project page.
McKelvey Park Detention Basin (completed)
This detention basin element was completed in February 2020. View more information about this completed project element.
Channel Improvements Elements: Levees/Floodwalls and Channel widening elements (completed)
The construction of these elements was completed in December 2018. View more information about these completed project elements.
Project Fact Sheet and Inserts
- Permanente Creek Fact Sheet
- Channel Improvements and Floodwalls Insert
- McKelvey Park Insert
- Rancho San Antonio Insert
- Public Outreach Summary Insert
- Project Milestones Timeline
Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (November 2012)
Addendums to the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report
- Addendum to the Final SEIR (May 2013)
- Second Addendum to the Final SEIR (September 2016)
- Third Addendum to Final SEIR (May 2017)
- Fourth Addendum to the Final SEIR (June 2018)
- Fifth Addendum to the Final SEIR (February 2020)
Video from the 2017 groundbreaking event
Key Performance Indicator for the Safe, Clean Water Program
Provide flood protection to 1,664 parcels downstream of El Camino Real, including Middlefield Road and Central Expressway.
Provides flood protection to a minimum of 1,664 parcels (1,378 homes, 160 businesses and 4 schools/institutions) downstream of El Camino Real from a 1% (or 100-year) flood
Prevent flooding of Middlefield Road and Central Expressway
Minimize the future cost for maintenance
Provide opportunities for environmental enhancements and trail extension
Geographic Area of Benefit
Mountain View and Los Altos
Flooding History and Project Background
Permanente Creek has a history of flooding, having experienced major flooding in 1862, 1911, 1940, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1995 and 1998. Flooding can result in millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses and schools. In addition, disruption to businesses and transportation networks can result in significant loss of productivity and revenue. One of the project’s goals is to avoid utility and transportation shutdowns and prevent potential damages that could exceed $48 million (1999 value).
Each winter, thousands of households, schools and businesses in Mountain View and Los Altos are susceptible to flooding from Permanente Creek during a major storm. The Santa Clara Valley Water District has initiated planning of a flood-protection project along 10.6 miles of Permanente Creek, from San Francisco Bay’s southwest shoreline through Mountain View to Foothill Expressway in Los Altos.
The Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project offers a tremendous opportunity for a multi-purpose project to improve flood protection, create recreational opportunities and enhance the environment. The District worked with the cities and the community to design the most suitable alternative.
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.