Photo slideshow: Valley Water performs annual work in creeks for flood protection
Every year, Valley Water performs work in creeks across Santa Clara County to ensure that flood protection projects continue to provide their designed protection. This critical work is part of our Stream Maintenance Program, which also manages vegetation to reduce the intensity and harmful impacts of fires during the extreme drought conditions in Santa Clara County.
Valley Water owns and manages about 275 miles of streams. Each year, portions of these streams are inspected and prioritized for maintenance projects. Our work generally falls under one of four categories:
Bank protection: High and sustained water flows can cause extensive damage to creek banks, eroding existing flood protection improvements and natural elements. Repairing creek banks also helps protect neighboring homes and property from damage
Sediment removal: Sediment and debris washed downstream can restrict the flow of water in some areas. During a heavy storm, these areas of restricted flow could cause water to back up, increasing the risk of flooding. Crews remove sediment to allow stormwater to flow through the creeks as designed.
Vegetation management: Valley Water manages over 3,000 acres of vegetation in Santa Clara County. Valley Water selectively removes instream vegetation to maintain flows in streams and riparian corridors. We manage vegetation near streams for maintenance access and fire code compliance given the county’s drought conditions and ongoing challenges of climate change. Invasive plant species are also removed to improve ecological health.
Riparian planting: This practice enhances and establishes habitat for birds, amphibians, fish and other terrestrial and aquatic species living in creek corridors. Our riparian planting program compensates for the unavoidable riparian impacts created by sediment removal, bank stabilization, and vegetation management activities.
Valley Water primarily performs this work between June 15 and Oct. 15. In some instances, Valley Water may request and receive work extensions beyond Oct. 15 to complete projects. Other work, including minor maintenance and vegetation management projects, can occur year-round.
Here is an overview of Stream Maintenance Project work happening in 2021.
Sediment removal on San Tomas Aquino Creek upstream of Walsh Avenue in Santa Clara
Bank protection along Saratoga Creek upstream of Pruneridge Avenue in Santa Clara
Bank protection on Canoas Creek upstream of Capitol Expressway in San Jose
Bank protection on Golf Creek upstream of Redmond Avenue in San Jose
Bank protection on Lower Penitencia Creek downstream of Great Mall Parkway in Milpitas
Bank protection on Thompson Creek at Quimby Creek confluence in San Jose