Looking northwest towards Coyote Creek - at E William St Bridge

Safe, Clean Water Program provides funding for natural flood protection for Coyote Creek

By Director Barbara Keegan, representative for District 2

Protecting your home, property, and business from flooding is one of Valley Water’s highest priorities. The Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, a countywide special tax approved by 74% of voters in 2012, has provided funding for crucial projects to shield vulnerable areas of Santa Clara County from floods.

The Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project, which runs through my neighborhood and district in San José, is partially funded by this parcel tax. The project extends for nine miles in historically flood-prone areas and seeks to protect residential, commercial, and industrial areas and major roads and highways from floods. One of the worst floods registered in the area occurred on February 21, 2017, when Coyote Creek overtopped its banks at several locations from Montague Expressway to Tully Road. That event occurred after extreme weather brought unusually heavy rainfalls, overfilling Anderson Reservoir and creating a large flow over the spillway into Coyote Creek. The 2017 Coyote Creek Flood had a devastating impact on the community that this project seeks to protect.

Since 2017, Valley Water has implemented several short-term projects to reduce the risk of flooding along Coyote Creek. We have installed an interim floodwall and berm along the creek in the Rock Springs community, repaired a 150-foot levee adjacent to the South Bay Mobile Home Park, and installed flood gauges to provide real-time flood information. Valley Water has held more than 12 community meetings as we move ahead with the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project’s many complex aspects. In June 2020, I joined Valley Water’s staff in the latest series of community meetings. We presented the preferred project alternative and solicited public input.  I hope you’ll join us for another series of public meetings currently planned for early next year, where we’ll be seeking your feedback on our project design.

The urgency to provide flood protection to our community grows as we face more extreme weather events due to climate change. We must secure full funding for projects that will provide our homes, schools, and businesses with long-term protection from floods.

As you fill-out your vote-by-mail ballot or go to the polls this election season, you will see a renewal of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program parcel tax as Measure S on the Santa Clara County ballot. If passed, Measure S would provide additional funding for Safe, Clean Water, flood protection and environmental stewardship.

Measure S would continue to provide local funding to plan, design and construct improvements along approximately nine miles of Coyote Creek between Montague Expressway and Tully Road in San José. The goal of the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project is to provide protection from floods up to the level that occurred on Feb. 21, 2017.

Valley Water is committed to working on projects that provide flood protection, environmental stewardship, and safe, clean water for all.


  1. Are there any plans to address the closing of the bicycle path every time water is released from Lake Anderson?
    I am a cyclist and it is very disappointing to all of the cyclists that have to leave a safe path and cycle on the much more dangerous Monterey Road.
    Jim Moskus


    1. Thank you for the question, Mr. Moskus.
      On Feb. 20, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Valley Water to lower water levels in Anderson Reservoir to 3% of its capacity as a public safety measure. These releases into Coyote Creek began on Oct. 1 and have resulted in higher flows than are normal for this time of year.
      Some sections of Coyote Creek were built at a low elevation that provided for higher flows to cross over the trail. During winter months, these trail crossings can flood during storm events or releases from the reservoir.
      Since we are currently releasing water at winter storm release rates, the trails are susceptible to being covered with water more frequently. When this happens, it can result in the temporary closure of some sections of the trail.
      Although this may be disappointing for trail users, the closures are intended to keep the public safe during higher flows in Coyote Creek, and the trails are re-opened as soon as conditions are once again safe for trail users.
      In addition, Valley Water works closely with our partner, Santa Clara County Parks, during these releases to ensure coordinated communication with trail users, should some trails need to be closed temporarily.
      It’s important to note that Anderson Reservoir is the largest surface reservoir in Santa Clara County and an important piece of our water supply. Lowering the water level in Anderson Reservoir is the first in a series of steps aimed at strengthening Anderson Dam so it can safely withstand a major earthquake.
      Variable flows in Coyote Creek and trail closures can be expected throughout the construction process at Anderson Dam.


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