The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s (District) Safe Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program has multiple priorities including Priority D for restoring and protecting vital wildlife habitat and providing opportunities for increased access to trails and open space. Project D5 focuses on ecological data collection and analysis. Since 2010 the D5 Project has developed and implemented a watershed approach to environmental monitoring and assessment using the Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) endorsed by the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW) of the California Water Quality Monitoring Council as a preferred strategy to assess the extent and health of California’s wetland and stream resources (also see EOA and SFEI 2011). WRAMP incorporates the 3-Level monitoring and assessment system recommended by USEPA. The D5 Project has been conducting watershed-wide Level-1 (GIS-based) and Level 2 (rapid field-based) assessments of streams in five major watersheds of Santa Clara County: Coyote Creek, Guadalupe, upper Pajaro River, Lower Peninsula, and West Valley watersheds. The five watersheds will be re-assessed by the District on a rotating basis to evaluate temporal and spatial changes in stream condition.
The D5 Project is to align the collection and analysis of ecological data with the needs of water resource decision-makers. This is achieved by carefully developing management questions or concerns that the data should directly address for each watershed. The data collected by the D5 Project support the District and other agencies and organizations in evaluating and tracking the overall abundance, distribution, diversity, and condition of aquatic resources in the County, which in-turn informs watershed- or landscape-based natural resource management.
SFEI has been working with the District since 2009, to develop stream survey designs and sample draws, conduct CRAM field assessments, and report on the distribution, abundance, and condition of the aquatic resources within the five major watersheds, based on the California Aquatic Resources Inventory (CARI), and the California Rapid Assessment Method for streams (CRAM). To date, streams in four of the five major watersheds in Santa Clara County have been assessed by the Priority D5 Project with support from SFEI. The final watershed assessment reports can be found at the following links:
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CRAM is a standardized, scientifically defensible rapid assessment method for monitoring the ecological conditions of wetlands throughout California. Because it is standardized, one can compare ecological conditions of wetlands locally, regionally and statewide.
The Bay Area Aquatic Resources Inventory (BAARI) is a GIS base map of the Bay Area's wetlands, open water, streams, ditches, tidal marshes and flats, and riparian areas. BAARI was developed using standardized mapping protocols to ensure that the level of detail and wetland classification system is standardized across the region.