The San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center and the Santa Clara Valley Water District worked with technical advisors and a group of local stakeholders to explore a range of multi-benefit management opportunities along Upper Penitencia Creek, culminating in this Resilient Landscape Vision. The vision focuses on ways to expand flow conveyance and flood water storage from the Coyote Creek confluence upstream to the Dorel Drive bridge in a manner that works with the existing landscape features and supports habitats for native species. The management measures described here fall into two main categories:
In-channel improvements & riparian enhancements includes floodplain excavation, setting back levees, and managing vegetation in modified channel-floodplain areas to better support native wildlife
Multi-benefit off-channel detention includes creating high-flow floodplain basins that have multiple uses (e.g., sports fields and flood detention) and provide habitat features to support native wildlife
Additional management measures related to modifying flow and sediment delivery from the upper watershed are also discussed.
The next steps for implementing the vision measures include developing design alternatives, conducting feasibility analyses, continued collaboration with local stakeholders who own and manage land along the creek, and garnering regulatory agency support. Although situated in a highly developed landscape, the Upper Penitencia Creek channel-floodplain corridor retains a considerable amount of open space that provides opportunities for multi-benefit flood management. This Vision can be used as guidance in similar landscapes around the region, where managers are seeking to implement a nature-based approach to flood management that leverages existing open space features and benefits both people and wildlife.
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Upper Penitencia Creek, on the eastern side of Santa Clara Valley, has locally significant potential for stream restoration and anadromous fish recovery. The Upper Penitencia Creek Historical Ecology Assessment documents aspects of Upper Penitencia Creek's hydrogeomorphology and riparian ecology prior to major Euro-American modification. It describes the historical (ca. 1850) channel alignment, dry season hydrology, and riparian corridor of the creek as interpreted from early maps, textual records, and photographs.
This report synthesizes historical evidence into a picture of how Coyote Creek looked and functioned before intensive modification. Prepared for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the report helps explain contemporary landscape conditions and identify options for watershed restoration, natural flood protection, and integrated water management.