Op-ed: Valley Water progressing on projects to reduce flood risk along Coyote Creek
Rendering of a raised barrier at William Street Park. Image courtesy of Valley Water.

So far this winter, we’ve had an incredibly wet December followed by the driest January on record in San Jose. Although Santa Clara County is currently in a drought emergency, we can’t predict how much rain we’ll receive in the future.

Valley Water is continuing our work on projects to reduce the risk of flooding in neighborhoods along Coyote Creek in San Jose. The Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project and the Coyote Creek Flood Management Measures Project extend for nine miles in historically flood-prone areas and seek to protect residential, commercial, industrial areas and major roads and highways from floods.

Since the beginning of this project, we have worked hard to ensure residents have a voice in the proposed solution. Valley Water has held more than 15 public meetings to hear from neighbors and gather their feedback—and we are using that feedback to help shape the project.

Both flood protection projects include installing floodwalls, passive barriers, berms or new levees along five stretches of Coyote Creek between Montague Expressway and Tully Road. 

On Feb. 3, Valley Water held a virtual public meeting to provide a project update and gain valuable community input on the project’s look. The meeting focused on the aesthetics of the flood protection solutions in Watson Park, Rock Springs Park and William Street Park, located near Coyote Creek.

Valley Water asked attendees to choose what wall aesthetic they preferred in each park. We provided five options, including wood panel, metal panel, green screen that would allow native plants to grow, exposed concrete or concrete and metal surfacing types.

Our design team will incorporate the community feedback as we continue designing the project. We hope to begin construction on the Coyote Creek Flood Management Measures Project this fall and finish at the end of 2023. We estimate starting construction on the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project in early 2024 and completing the work by the end of 2025. 

Parks and open spaces help make our neighborhoods vibrant, connect neighbors and weave us into the fabric of the community. We want to recognize San Jose’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department. We’ve been in close communication with them on all aspects of the project that involve parks. 

Both projects are connected to our efforts of strengthening Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill. The original Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project was split into two projects to accommodate building a new outlet tunnel at Anderson Dam. Valley Water is accelerating the design and construction of the Coyote Creek Flood Management Measures Project so the creek can handle the potential release of higher flows from the larger outlet tunnel at Anderson Dam.

Since 2017, Valley Water has implemented several short-term projects to reduce the risk of flooding along Coyote Creek. We have installed an interim floodwall and berm along the creek in the Rock Springs community, repaired a 150-foot levee adjacent to the South Bay Mobile Home Park and installed flood gauges to provide real-time flood information at several points along Coyote Creek. 

These projects are among the highest priorities for our board of directors. We want to build projects that reflect the values of the community they serve and to operate as intended. In this case, we want to reduce the risk of flooding.

Valley Water is your neighbor, and we want to contribute to the vibrancy of neighborhoods through our work and projects. Completing the Coyote Creek Flood Protection Project and Coyote Creek Flood Management Measures Project are critical to the safety of this community, and we are committed to keeping them moving forward.

Submitted on behalf of Valley Water board members Tony Estremera, Barbara Keegan and Richard P. Santos. For further information, contact your elected district representative: [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]

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