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E6: Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection*

About This Project

Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership

This project continues a Clean, Safe Creeks project in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the state to plan, design, and construct improvements along 13.9 miles of channel. The project extends from Buena Vista Avenue to Wright Avenue, including West Little Llagas Creek in downtown Morgan Hill. The federally authorized preferred project protects the urban area of Morgan Hill from a 1% (or 100-year) flood, and reduces the frequency of flooding in surrounding areas. Construction includes channel modifications and replacement of road crossings. The District continues to work with Congress to aggressively pursue federal funds to bring this project to full fruition. In 2012, project limits were extended 2,700 feet upstream to Llagas Road to address public concerns.

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

Upper Llagas Creek Project
Preparing to Advertise for Construction for Phase 2
Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy
Start FY 2014 / Finish FY 2024
Safe, Clean Water Fund ($125.3 million); Watershed Stream Stewardship Fund; State of California; City of Morgan Hill
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project Public Hearing

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) is holding a Public Hearing on the proposed modification to the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection (Safe, Clean Water) Program’s Project E6: Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project.

When:   January 14, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.

Where: Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) Boardroom, 5700 Almaden Expressway, San José, CA 95118

Modifications to the voter-approved program require a public hearing.

The primary objective of the project is to plan, design and construct improvements along 13.9 miles of Upper Llagas Creek from Buena Vista Avenue in Gilroy to Llagas Road in Morgan Hill, including West Little Llagas Creek in downtown Morgan Hill. The proposed modification is for the locally funded Key Performance Indicator of the project.

The modification increases the length of the project to be built with local funds from approximately 2.9 miles to 4.9 miles in addition to constructing the onsite compensatory mitigation (see attached document). Besides getting the most out of the available local dollars, this approach keeps the project moving forward without inducing flooding downstream and maximizes the potential for external funding opportunities. This modification also reflects improved collaboration with regulatory permitting agencies that require early mitigation for the project impacts.

To access the board agenda memo regarding this hearing, click at the link below:

For more information on the public hearing, contact Meenakshi Ganjoo at [email protected] or (408) 630-2295.

Valley Water Begins Project Construction

In September 2019, Valley Water began construction of Phase 1 (Reaches 4 and 7a, portion of Reach 5 and Lake Silveira). Work for this phase consists of channel widening and deepening, instream improvements for wildlife and habitat, and revegetation.

The project will be constructed in two phases with each phase having specific sections (referred to as reaches on the map) where the proposed improvements will occur. With the completion of both Phase 1 and Phase 2, the project will provide 100-year level of flood protection to urban areas of Morgan Hill in Reaches 7 and 8, 10-year for Reach 14, and no induced flooding due to creek modifications on Reaches 4, 5, and 6. For a 100-year level of flood protection, this means Llagas Creek should be able to withstand flooding in the event of a large and rare storm event which has a one-in-100 (1 percent) chance of occurring in any given year.

Phase 2 (all remaining reaches) will require purchasing approximately 105 parcels (76 permanent/29 temporary) from private or public agency owners. Approximately 70 of these permanent acquisitions have been acquired to date with the remaining parcels, including temporary construction rights to be acquired by December 2019. Phase 2 work consists of additional channel widening and deepening, instream improvements for wildlife habitat, and construction of an underground tunnel to carry high water flows, where low flows  will remain within the existing creek that winds through downtown Morgan Hill within Reach 8.  Phase 2 is anticipated to be advertised for construction in June 2020 with a start of construction in September 2020.

The latest Upper Llagas Creek project mailer is available for viewing.

Project brochure and inserts for Phase 1:

Brochure   Insert 1   Insert 2

Updated January 2020 

For more information:


Reports & Documents

Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, Valley Water, as the lead agency for the Project, has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) to evaluate environmental impacts of the proposed Project

Additional reports related to the Project can be found by clicking on the link below:

  1. Geotechnical Report (2006)
     - Part 1
     - Part 2
  2. Site Characterization Report (2012)
  3. Reach 4 and 5 Limited Phase II ESA (2003)
  4. Reach 4, 5, 6, and 7B – Phase I ESA Vol 1 (2003)
  5. Reach 4, 5, 6, and 7B – Phase I ESA Vol 2 (2003)
     - Part 1
     - Part 2
  6. Reach 5 and 6 – Phase I ESA (2002)
  7. Reach 8 – Phase I ESA (2003)
  8. Reach 14 – Phase I ESA(2005)
Environmental & Community Benefits

Key Performance Indicators

  1. Preferred project with federal and local funding: Provide flood protection to 1,100 homes, 500 businesses, and 1,300 agricultural acres, while improving stream habitat.

  2. With local funding only: Provide 100-year flood protection for Reach 7 only (up to W. Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill). A limited number of homes and businesses will be protected.


  • Preferred project provides 1% flood capacity for 4 miles of channel in downtown Morgan Hill, protecting approximately 1,100 homes and 500 businesses

  • Preferred project provides 10-year flood protection to approximately 1,300 agricultural acres in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin

  • Locally-funded-only project provides 1% flood protection for a limited number of homes and businesses in Morgan Hill

  • Improves stream habitat and fisheries

  • Creates additional wetlands

  • Improves stream water quality

  • Identifies opportunities to integrate recreation improvements with the City of Morgan Hill and others as appropriate

Geographic Area of Benefit

Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy 

History & Background

Flooding History and Project Background

The area sustained damage in 1937, 1955, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1969, 1982, 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2009, many businesses and residences in downtown Morgan Hill were flooded under 1 foot of water. The project builds on the planning, design and property acquisition initiated under the Clean, Safe Creeks plan of 2000.

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 Valley Water website.