Stream maintenance for flood protection

Barbara Keegan, Board Director, District 2 representative

Preparing for wet weather starts shortly after the rainy season ends. Each year, Santa Clara Valley Water District staff conducts work under its Stream Maintenance Program to ensure that flood protection projects continue to provide the protection they were designed to give.

Although we maintain some streams year-round, much of our work takes place from June 15 to October 15 under permits from regulatory agencies. This allows the water district to perform stream bank repair and in-stream removal of sediment and debris, and to manage in-stream vegetation.

Part of the effort to maintain these flood protection projects includes replanting the areas in and around creeks with native plants. The water district does that to make up for the impacts of stream maintenance work at other locations. Replanting establishes and enhances habitat for wildlife that live in or around streams. It also provides shade and sources of plant matter that are important to the habitat. These plants also improve root and soil structure.

Two projects this year are in District 2, which is the area I represent. These projects are both native plant revegetation projects. On Coyote Creek north of Interstate 280, we have begun planting and will finish when the rest of the plants arrive sometime this fall. On Coyote Creek downstream of 16th Street, we are expecting the delivery of plants in the spring of 2019.

The plants, which are specifically grown from local native seeds and cuttings, will be small when planted, but starting them from seed will result in stronger, more robust plants. Water district staff will be on site periodically over a number of years to water and weed and ensure the plants establish themselves.

Often invasive plants, not native to an area, grow and create a major threat to ecosystems. The water district focuses on 40 species of plants that are invasive to stream areas in the county. Invasive plants tend to thrive and spread aggressively, negatively affecting wildlife, soil, and water and habitat quality. In addition, some types of invasive plants can make flooding and fire danger worse, blocking access to roads, levees and trails. Our staff removes these damaging plants, such as ivy or giant reeds, to improve and maintain habitat along the streams and river corridors in Santa Clara County.

Additionally, this winter we are initiating a project to remove invasive plants in our district on Los Gatos Creek between Leigh Avenue and Meridian Avenue.

In other areas within our district where the water district has jurisdiction to work, we are also conducting routine maintenance activities, including pruning; fence repair; graffiti, trash and debris removal; vegetation management; and minor maintenance of certain water district facilities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: