bay highway 101 aerial view

Valley Water and partners advance the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project

By Director Gary Kremen, representative for District 7

Valley Water and its partners from the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA) remain committed to protecting homes and businesses from flooding along San Francisquito Creek.

The SFCJPA, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has nearly completed the design for the second phase of the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project, from Highway 101 to El Camino Real in Palo Alto. Once completed, the second phase of the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project will protect about 3,000 homes and businesses across three cities from flooding.

There is one open issue, a lawsuit filed by a Menlo Park resident, Peter Joshua who is against the project. We are confident we will win.

The SFCJPA is comprised of Valley Water, the San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District, and the cities of East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

The work on San Francisquito Creek upstream of Highway 101 includes widening narrow sections of the creek and replacing bridges at Newell Road and Pope / Chaucer Street. The Newell Road project is the project of the City of Palo Alto with the Pope / Chaucer Street being a project of the SFCJPA. This will allow the Creek to carry water levels that were seen during the 1998 flood, the largest on record. Currently the channel can only handle the amount of water you would see in a 15-year flood event. A 15-year flood event has a 6.6% chance of happening in any given year.

This is a complex project requiring tremendous coordination between the SFCJPA member agencies and other key partners. We hope to begin construction in 2021 on segments of the upstream of the Highway 101 portion of the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project, depending on how soon we get permits and construction funding.

The first phase of the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project, from the San Francisco Bay to Highway 101, was completed about two years ago and protects more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto from a 100-year flood (which has a 1% chance of happening any given year).

The San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project is one of several programs and projects that receive funding under the existing Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program (Safe, Clean Water Program), a countywide special parcel tax approved by 74% of voters in November 2012. The existing Safe, Clean Water Program provides $73.6 million in funding for the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project.

In July 2020, the Valley Water Board of Directors voted unanimously to place a renewal measure of the Safe, Clean Water Program in front of voters as Measure S this Nov. 3 for their consideration. If approved by two-thirds of voters, Measure S would fund several projects and programs that provide Santa Clara County residents and businesses with a safe, reliable water supply now and into the future, including $31.5 million in funding for the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project.

Valley Water and its SFCJPA partners are seeking $20 million in federal and partnership funding. The renewed Safe, Clean Water Program would also:

  • Fund upgrades to pipelines, dams, and critical water infrastructure to improve water supplies and prepare for the risk of flooding, droughts, earthquakes, natural disasters, and climate change
  • Continue to reduce toxins, hazards, and contaminants in our rivers, lakes, and streams through pollution prevention and creek cleanup efforts
  • Continue environmental stewardship work to restore wildlife habitat, improve fish habitat and passage, and partner to conserve open space for habitat.

To learn more about the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection project, visit http://www.valleywater.org or https://www.sfcjpa.org. You can also find out more about the proposed renewal of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program at safecleanwater.org.

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