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Flood protection project
Upper Penitencia Creek

Project goal:
To provide protection to 4,300 homes, schools, and businesses located in the project’s floodplain area.

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Project contact:
For more information about this project, contact: Marc Klemencic, Manager, Coyote Watershed, Santa Clara Valley Water District, at (408) 265-2600, ext. 2084.

Description of the project

Upper Penitencia Creek is a major tributary of Coyote Creek, and drains portions of San Jose and unincorporated eastern Santa Clara County land.

Proposed flood protection measures include a bypass channel and flood-proofing homes.

The district has constructed fish ladders and screens at two locations (shown on map) where creek water is diverted to groundwater recharge ponds providing passage to the upper
watershed for endangered steelhead trout.

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Project timeline

District requested federal assistance from
Natural Resources Conservation Service


Final watershed work plan and Environmental
Impact Statement completed

Aug 1990

Farm Bill (PL 101-624) adopted by Congress

Nov 1990

Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed plan halted


District asked Corps to proceed with
reconnaissance study of project area


Corps began reconnaissance study

Oct 1994

Reconnaissance study completed

July 1995

Corps began feasibility study

Feb 1998

Issue Resolution Conference for real estate valuation

July 1999

Initial Feasibility Study public scoping meeting

Dec 1999

Scheduled completion of feasibility study


Begin project construction (District estimation)


Complete project (District’s estimation)


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Flooding history
With the capacity to carry less than a 10-year event, Upper Penitencia Creek has a history of reoccurring floods. Recent floods occurred in 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1995, and
February 1998. In April 1982, flood damages exceeded $1 million. In January 1995, a commercial nursery, a condominium complex, and a business park were damaged by floodwaters. The same area flooded again in February 1998.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) 1995 reconnaissance report, 4,300 buildings are located in the flood-prone area including portions of the cities of San Jose and
Milpitas. In the event of a 1 percent or 100-year flood, almost half of the buildings would have water entering the first floor and damages would exceed $121 million.

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Related Information

How clean is our water?

What's going on in my watershed?

Providing stream stewardship, wholesale water supply and flood protection for Santa Clara County.