Progress continues on Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection project in South County

By John L. Varela, representative for District 1

As our community continues to respond to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Valley Water remains focused on continuing to deliver safe, clean drinking water to our community, and protect homes and businesses from flooding.

During this unprecedented time, Valley Water and its project contractor Graniterock Company are continuing work on the Upper Llagas Creek Flood Protection Project in South County. This is considered an essential infrastructure project in accordance with the Shelter in Place Order issued by the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.

Over the years some of our neighbors in South County have suffered from flooding events along Llagas Creek, and it is important that we continue to move forward on this critical project during these trying times.

We are enforcing all public health protocols to ensure safe working environments during construction, for both work crews and the community. As we all continue to follow social distancing guidelines, I ask members of the community to avoid approaching workers at these project sites.

The project is being constructed in multiple phases and consists of approximately 13.9 miles of flood protection improvements along East Little Llagas Creek, West Little Llagas Creek, and Llagas Creeks within the cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and the unincorporated area of San Martin. This project is partially funded by our Safe, Clean Water initiative, which helps us care for our waterways and provide flood protection to homes, schools and businesses.

Since our ribbon-cutting ceremony in August 2019, steady progress has been made on Phase 1 of the project. We removed 12.5 acres of invasive, non-native blackberries at Lake Silveira and performed excavation work to restore 2,000 linear feet of Llagas Creek from Lake Silveira towards Monterey Highway.

Lake Silveira, a former quarry site where a portion of the lake will be converted to wetland habitat with islands (September 2019)

In May, Valley Water is scheduled to begin in-channel construction work. Activities you will likely witness in May through the end of October 2020 include:

  • Widening and deepening existing Llagas Creek to increase its capacity to carry storm water.
  • Relocating native fish, amphibians and reptiles prior to dewatering Lake Silveira.
  • Placement of soil material within the dewatered lake to create a wetland with islands to provide habitat and refuge for wildlife.
  • Installation of a replacement sewer line along Monterey Road below Llagas Creek.
  • Preparation for thousands of native plants to be installed in fall/winter 2020.

The dewatering of Lake Silveira is the first step to converting a portion of the site to a wetland for birds, frogs, turtles, and other wildlife. The site will also be planted with native plants to help support the area’s natural environment and wildlife habitat.

During construction, residents can expect increased truck traffic, noise, dust and temporary road and trail closures at various project points during construction. Valley Water will continue to use best management practices to minimize construction disturbances such as noise and dust to the neighborhood and work with the contractor to address resident concerns as they arise.

We continue to collaborate with the City of Morgan Hill as they craft plans to develop the site for open space and recreational uses once Phase 1 of the flood protection project is completed. The work is an example of Valley Water’s commitment to restore wildlife habitat and provide open space for public access.

Finally, as we continue to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19, Valley Water wants to reassure our community that this virus is not impacting the safety of your drinking water, or our ability to supply water and provide flood protection to residents of Santa Clara County.

Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Stay Home.

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