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Stream Maintenance Program

About This Project

As part of its Stream Maintenance Program (SMP), the Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) plans to perform work along creeks across Santa Clara County this summer. Under the SMP, work occurs annually to improve the environment, reduce the risk of flooding and keep our communities safe. For decades, our crews have been trekking into streams to remove sediment build-up, manage vegetation, clear trash and debris, and stabilize banks that have eroded during high water flows. Work to reduce fire danger continues to be important, especially given the county’s extreme drought conditions and the ongoing challenges of climate change. The SMP ensures streams with completed flood protection projects continue to function as designed to protect homes and businesses.

Valley Water owns and manages about 295 miles of streams. Each year, portions of these streams are inspected and prioritized for maintenance projects. 

  • Under the "News and Updates" tab below, you'll find information on this year's projects.
  • Under the "Reports and Document" tab below, you'll find various notices, factsheets and documents related to SMP. 
  • Under the "Environmental and Community Benefits" and "History and Backgrounds" tabs below, you'll find more background about the program. 

For more information about the program or projects, you can also contact Jose Villarreal at 408-630-2879 email: [email protected] or Mark Williams at 408-630-2995 email: [email protected].

Datapoints
Schedule
Mid-June to Mid-October
Work Days
Mon-Fri (Some Sat. work may be necessary)
Work Hours
Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. (work before 8 a.m. limited to prep activities)
Location
Countywide
Funding
Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program (Partial)
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

2024 Projects*

The projects listed here are part of the 2024 season’s proposed work. Other work, including minor maintenance, riparian planting, invasive plant removal, and other vegetation management projects, occur year-round. A copy of this year's general program notice, which includes a map of the work locations, is available to download. The proposed 2024 project sites are listed to the right. Notices from previous years, and important creekside information, are available in the "Reports and Documents" tab.

What to Expect 

Work on SMP projects typically occurs Monday through Friday, but Saturday work may be necessary to complete some projects. Work hours are set by local city ordinances, starting between 7 a.m. and generally ending by 5 p.m. Our crews strive to be courteous to all neighbors. Any work occurring before 8 a.m. will be limited to preparation activities with minimal noise impact.

Potential Types of Stream Maintenance Program Work

Bank Protection
High and sustained water flows can cause extensive damage to creek banks, eroding existing flood protection improvements and natural elements. Repairing creek banks also helps protect neighboring homes and property from damage.

Sediment Removal

Sediment and debris washed downstream can restrict water flow in some areas. During a heavy storm, these restricted flow areas could cause water to back up, which can increase the risk of flooding. Crews remove sediment to allow stormwater to flow through the creeks as designed. To the extent possible, Valley Water reuses sediment for environmental purposes and to reduce disposal costs.

Vegetation Management
Valley Water crews manage over 3,000 acres of instream and upland vegetation annually. Selective removal of instream vegetation maintains flow conveyance in streams and riparian corridors. Managing upland vegetation restores maintenance access and maintains fire code compliance, given the county’s cyclical dry conditions and the ongoing challenges of climate change. Valley Water’s vegetation management work is crucial in helping to reduce fire risk.  

Mitigation
Valley Water implements mitigation projects to offset impacts associated with some of the bank protection, sediment removal, and vegetation management work. Mitigation projects can include:

  • Riparian planting: Enhances and establishes habitat for birds, amphibians, fish, and other terrestrial and aquatic species living in creek corridors to compensate for the unavoidable riparian impacts created by sediment removal, bank protection, and vegetation management activities. Invasive and non-native annuals and grasses that compete with native plants are removed. Vegetation that meets the habitat needs of the project site with the highest likelihood of surviving and thriving is planted. Valley Water monitors and maintains riparian planting areas for five to seven years to ensure projects are successful.
  • Invasive plant management: Plant species such as Algerian ivy, Cape ivy, Himalayan blackberry, tree of heaven, and giant reed, are removed because they present a significant threat to the ecosystem. These plants spread aggressively and can negatively alter wildlife patterns, soil stability, and water quality. Invasive plants can increase the risk of flooding and fire danger, undermine structural assets, and obstruct access to roads, levees, and trails.
  • Instream habitat improvement: Work is done to address the impacts of removing sediment and large woody debris from certain streams. This can include adding rocks and logs or root wads to the creek to create a higher-quality habitat for fish and other species.
  • Compensatory mitigation: This is the restoration, establishment, enhancement, or preservation of natural resources to replace resources impacted by maintenance activities. In addition to the above work types, compensatory mitigation may include the restoration of existing floodplains and bank rehabilitation by remediating unauthorized excavations, concrete removal, and sediment removal to promote wetland habitat.

*While Valley Water will make every effort to undertake on these proposed projects, please note that work may not occur for multiple reasons, including delays in regulatory agencies’ approvals, wildlife considerations, unforeseen site conditions, and unavailability of resources, among other circumstances.  Projects not initiated this year may be considered for completion in future years.


Below are images of before and after projects from the 2023 season of work. 

Before: Sediment removal on Berryessa Creek downstream of Piedmont Road in San Jose.
After: Sediment removal on Berryessa Creek downstream of Piedmont Road in San Jose.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Before: Bed and bank protection project on Regnart Creek upstream of Antoinette Drive in Cupertino.

 

 

 

 

 





 

Construction: Bed and bank protection project on Regnart Creek upstream of Antoinette Drive in Cupertino.

 


 

After: Bed and bank protection project on Regnart Creek upstream of Antoinette Drive in Cupertino.

#

City

Type of Work

Name and Project Location

Current Status

1

Gilroy

Bank Protection

Llagas Creek downstream of Buena Vista Ave.

 

2

Gilroy

Bank Protection

Llagas Creek upstream of Leavesley Rd.

 

3

Gilroy

Bank Protection

West Branch Llagas Creek downstream of Murray Ave.

 

4

Gilroy

Bank Protection

Princevalle Drain downstream of Automall Pkwy.

 

5

Los Altos

Sediment Removal

Permanente Diversion Channel upstream of Grant Rd.

 

6

Los Gatos

Bank Protection

Ross Creek downstream of Camino del Cerro

 

7

Los Gatos

Sediment Removal

Ross Creek downstream of Camino del Cerro

 

8

Milpitas

Sediment Removal

Lower Penitencia Creek upstream of N. Abbott Ave.

 

9

Milpitas

Bank Protection

Lower Penitencia Creek upstream of N. Abbott Ave.

 

10

Milpitas

Sediment Removal

Berryessa Creek downstream of N. Abel St.

 

11

Milpitas

Bank Protection

Piedmont Creek upstream of Vista Wy.

 

12

Milpitas

Mitigation

Piedmont Creek upstream of Vista Wy.

 

13

Palo Alto

Vegetation Management

Barron Creek downstream of Miranda Ave. (Barron Debris Basin)

 

14

Palo Alto

Sediment Removal

Barron Creek upstream of Hwy. 101

 

15

Palo Alto

Bank Protection

Barron Creek upstream of Hwy. 101

 

16

Palo Alto

Sediment Removal

Adobe Creek upstream of Hwy. 101

 

17

San Jose

Bank Protection

Guadalupe River downstream of Trimble Rd. (inboard)

 

18

San Jose

Bank Protection

Guadalupe River downstream of Trimble Rd. (outboard)

 

19

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Guadalupe River Secondary Channel downstream of Coleman Ave.

 

20

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Guadalupe River downstream of Coleman Ave.

 

21

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Guadalupe River downstream of Park Ave.

 

22

San Jose

Bank Protection

Guadalupe River upstream of San Carlos St.

 

23

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Guadalupe River upstream of Woz Way

 

24

San Jose

Bank Protection

Guadalupe River downstream of Willow St.

   In Progress

25

San Jose

Mitigation

Guadalupe Creek upstream of Meridian Ave. (Los Capitancillos Meadow Restoration)

 

26

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Randol Creek upstream of Camden Ave.

 

27

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Randol Creek upstream of Rajkovich Wy.

 

28

San Jose

Vegetation Management

Alamitos Creek, Camden Ave. to Almaden Expwy.

 

29

San Jose

Vegetation Management

Coyote Creek, Tasman Dr. to Montague Expwy.

 

30

San Jose

Bank Protection

Coyote Creek upstream of William St.

 

31

San Jose

Sediment Removal

Lower Silver Creek downstream of Alum Rock Ave.

 

32

San Jose

Bank Protection

Lower Silver Creek upstream of Alum Rock Ave.

 

33

San Jose

Bank Protection

Thompson Creek downstream of Aborn Rd.

 

34

Santa Clara

Bank Protection

Saratoga Creek upstream of Pruneridge Ave.

   In Progress

35

Santa Clara

Mitigation

Saratoga Creek upstream of Pruneridge Ave.

 

36

Sunnyvale

Vegetation Management

Sunnyvale East Channel upstream of Tasman Dr.

 

37

Sunnyvale

Bank Protection

Sunnyvale East Channel upstream of Tasman Dr.

 

38

Sunnyvale

Sediment Removal

Sunnyvale East Channel upstream of Tasman Dr.

 

39

Sunnyvale

Bank Protection

Sunnyvale East Channel downstream of Fremont Ave.

 

40

Sunnyvale, Santa Clara

Vegetation Management

Calabazas Creek downstream of Tasman Dr.

 

Information on trail impacts is available here.

**For Santa Clara County creeks that flow toward Monterey Bay (i.e., creeks in the Pajaro Watershed, including Uvas Creek and Llagas Creeks, and their tributaries), in general, the terms, “upstream of” and “downstream of” can be further understood as “north of” and “south of”, respectively. For Santa Clara County creeks that flow toward San Francisco Bay (i.e., creeks not in the Pajaro Watershed), in general, the terms, “upstream of” and “downstream of” can be further understood as “south of” and “north of”, respectively. Learn more about watersheds here.

 

Reports & Documents
Current Project Notices
Reports & Documents
Factsheets
Misc. Links 
Previous Project Notices

 

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Los Gatos Creek - Before vegetation removal
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Los Gatos Creek - During vegetation removal
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Los Gatos Creek - After vegetation removal

 

Environmental & Community Benefits

Valley Water's Stream Maintenance Program (SMP) ensures flood protection projects continue to function as designed to protect homes and businesses along water district streams.

Thanks to various flood protection projects completed by Valley Water, some homes and businesses have been removed from FEMA-designated flood zones, and in addition to flood risk reduction activities, save residents countywide over $2 million in flood insurance premiums each year. Once those flood protection projects are completed, Valley Water’s Stream Maintenance Program ensures those projects continue to function as designed to protect homes and businesses along water streams.

  • There are more than 800 miles of creeks in Santa Clara County. Valley Water owns 275 miles of streams in the county, but only a portion of these have been modified with flood protection projects. Those are the streams that are maintained by Valley Water.

Valley Water crews regularly inspect stream and bank conditions. Toward the end of the rain season, staff finalize the proposed work plan for the upcoming Stream Maintenance Program work season.

From June to October, after securing state and federal regulatory agencies’ approval of the work plan, our crews trek into streams to remove sediment, manage vegetation, clear trash and debris, and stabilize banks that have been eroded. While the heavy work takes place in the summer, stream maintenance is a year-round effort.

During heavy storms, unruly vegetation and sediment washed down from areas upstream can restrict the flow of water and in some areas, cause a back-up, increasing the risk of flooding. Valley Water monitors known “hot spots” for vegetation and debris buildups and where needed and safe to do so, take action to remove these blockages and reduce the threat of localized flooding.

Stream maintenance work also includes an integrated vegetation management program which provides many benefits. Removal of in-stream vegetation ensures flow conveyance. Upland vegetation management is performed to meet fire code compliance and maintenance access. Native planting and invasive plant removal projects improve the ecological habitat of the riparian ecosystem.

If you observe a problem in any creek in our service area, you can report it on our "Access Valley Water" online customer request and information system. This is the best way to alert our field crews of downed branches, eroding banks, trash, graffiti or overgrown vegetation.

Keep debris and trash out of our streams: If you see trash polluting a creek, pond or reservoir, call 1(888) 510-5151.

 

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Before erosion repair
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After erosion repair

 

History & Background

YOUR INVESTMENT AT WORK

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 that was approved in 2012. The renewed program identifies the following six key community priorities, established with tens of thousands of residents and stakeholders:

Priority D provides funding for Valley Water to conduct mitigation site maintenance on native plant revegetation projects in creeks where we have jurisdiction to complete work. Priority F provides funding for Valley Water to conduct vegetation management and sediment removal projects for flow conveyance in creeks where we have jurisdiction or approval to complete work. The funding for this work is critical as it helps to enhance and establish habitat for wildlife and reduce flood risks to our communities. Thank you for
your investment.

Details on the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program can be found at https://www.valleywater.org/safe-clean-water-and-natural-flood-protection-program. The renewed Safe, Clean Water program will become effective starting on July 1, 2021.

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Before and after sediment removal on Berryessa Creek