Valley Water refills additional percolation ponds in Santa Clara County to replenish groundwater supplies

Many of the percolation ponds around Santa Clara County have been empty for the past few years due to the severe drought impacting the region and state.

In May 2022, Valley Water received an allocation of water from the federal water project to help meet the public health and safety needs of Santa Clara County. Valley Water is using this water to fill some of the 102 percolation ponds across the county, which will help replenish our groundwater supplies.

Most recently, Valley Water started filling Los Capitancillos Percolation Ponds near Coleman Road and Almaden Expressway in San José. Also, Camden Ponds in Campbell, off Los Gatos Creek, have been filled.

Before Valley Water received the emergency supply, 26 of the 102 ponds managed by Valley Water were full. We estimate that 65 ponds will be filled by the end of July.

Our ability to refill some percolation ponds does not mean that we are free of drought. The drought continues, fueled by record-breaking dry months of January to March 2022.

Percolation ponds are water supply facilities built in areas where permeable materials such as gravel and sand allow water to seep into our aquifers. Their primary and most important purpose is to allow water to filter underground to maintain healthy groundwater conditions. The ponds were not created to support wildlife, although many types of birds, geese and other animals take advantage of these ponds when water is available.

Some of Valley Water’s percolation ponds that currently have water include:

  • Madrone Channel (Morgan Hill)
  • San Pedro Pond (Morgan Hill)
  • Dr. Robert W. Gross Ponds (Upper Penitencia Creek)
  • Page Ponds and Budd Ponds (Campbell)

 To learn more about the role percolation ponds play in our water picture, check out this video.


  1. Does anyone know anything about the project title:

    “Agreement For a 2022 Temporary Transfer of Water from Browns Valley Irrigation District to Santa Clara Valley Water District”?

    I noticed it posted in the CEQA filings and have no clue why this happens, how often, do we transfer the water back at some point? Is there an exchange of funds? So curious and just don’t know who might know. The lead agency is listed as Santa Clara Valley Water and the applicant’s name is Santa Clara Valley Water.

    The CEQA filing is posted for 30 days and it expires 7/30. Any ideas what’s up? And there is a CEQA posted but what does that do?

    Trying to learn more here…


    1. Hi Jill,

      Valley Water has a longstanding partnership with Browns Valley Irrigation District, a water agency located in Northern California with reliable water supplies, to purchase a small amount of water available through conservation actions in their service area. Each year we have the option to purchase the water, but there is no obligation. In dry years, we purchase about 1,500 acre-feet of water at the going market price, which this year was $800 per acre-foot. This type of transaction, in which one agency with available water supplies sells water to another agency in need, is commonly called a water transfer. There is no obligation to return the water, but before our agency executes the agreement, we must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and disclose any potential environmental impacts associated with the water transfer. In this case, Valley Water has acted as a responsible agency under CEQA to approve this project. The lead agency, Browns Valley Irrigation District, prepared the Multiyear Temporary Water Transfer Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which Valley Water relied on when it approved the water transfer agreement. Based on the lead agency’s EIR, it was determined that the water transfer would not have a significant effect on the environment. In accordance with CEQA requirements, Valley Water posted a Notice of Determination (NOD) for a period of 30 days with the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder to inform the public of the activity and the environmental analysis previously conducted.


  2. With all of this excess water and flooding, why isn’t water being diverted to the San Pedro percolation ponds. They are almost empty.


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