Flood protection key to emergency preparedness

With Hurricane Harvey and subsequent flooding in Houston, we have seen how fast an emergency can overtake our lives. Now, before the winter rains, is the perfect time for people to prepare their homes, schools and businesses, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District is doing that as well.

The theme of September’s National Preparedness Month was “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” The campaign focused on being prepared. Floods are one emergency we could face any year here in Santa Clara County, and as the county’s flood protection agency, the water district takes preparation seriously. In District 7, which includes Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, two major flood protection projects are well underway.

The first project, on San Francisquito Creek, would provide flood protection to 5,700 homes and businesses. Those who lived near the creek in 1998 will remember the flooding and understand the importance of flood protection along this waterway. The portion of the project stretching from the San Francisco Bay to U.S. 101 is in the second of its three years of construction. Work includes constructing 2,100 feet of flood protection wall on the both the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto sides of the creek, excavating sediment, building a new offset levee on the Palo Alto side of the creek and planting vegetation between East Bayshore Road and Geng Road.

Work on another portion of the project, from U.S. 101 to El Camino Real, continues in the design phase. A draft environmental impact report is scheduled to be released by the end of the year, providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the project.

The second project, the Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project, will provide natural flood protection for an estimated 2,200 properties in Mountain View and Los Altos. It is expected to save residents thousands of dollars on flood insurance each year. The project has four elements to it that are in various stages of completion.

The McKelvey Park portion of the project is under construction and is expected to be completed by February 2019. It includes the construction of new recessed ball fields with terraced bleachers, a new concession and scorekeeper’s booth, and new restrooms.

The Rancho San Antonio County Park detention basin is under construction and is set to wrap up at the end of 2018. Work on this element includes constructing a depression to collect stormwater flows from Permanente Creek, planting native trees and building new restrooms.

The final work to be done involves widening and deepening channels to Permanente and Hale creeks, building flood protection walls and raising levees north of U.S. 101. The construction began in early August and is expected to run through the end of 2018.

These projects are funded through the water district’s voter-approved Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. Thank you for your foresight in approving the program. We also work hard to secure state and federal support for our efforts.

Once the projects are complete, the water district has the responsibility to maintain them so that they continue to function as designed. During our annual Stream Maintenance Program, we remove sediment, repair stream banks and manage vegetation in streams with completed flood protection projects. These projects will fall under that umbrella once completed.

Thank you for your patience as we continue with construction.

For more information on the projects, visit valleywater.org/Services/FloodProtectionProjects.aspx.

Gary Kremen is an elected representative of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. For more information, call (415) 305-3052 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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