San José

IntroductionSan Jose

With over 900,000 residents, San José is the third largest city in California and the 10th largest in the nation. Any city with such a large population will inevitably have tremendous water needs, and San José is no exception—the city’s diverse economy, growing population and myriad land uses create increasing (and at times competing) demands for a reliable supply of clean  water.

The District works closely with the City of San José as well as local organizations and businesses to ensure a reliable supply of water for a range of uses, from residential to industrial. In addition, the District and the City collaborate on projects to provide natural flood protection for the area in ways that help to preserve and protect the region’s diverse wildlife and vibrant ecosystem.  


Shared Responsibilities

With the understanding that their roles and responsibilities often intersect, the District and the City work together on many key community interests. The District Board and the City Council meet periodically to focus on issues of common interest. Materials for these meetings include extensive information flood protection, water conservation, and major collaborative projects. Major efforts have included:


Looking forward, further collaboration or partnership will facilitate sustainable development in the region, particularly in the following areas:

When evaluating land use decisions:

  • Assess and plan for changes in water demand and storm water management, especially taking into account how urbanization affects the water cycle.
  • Decrease the demand for water.
  • Expand water use efficiency in existing and new development.
  • Actively pursue and facilitate the use of recycled water.
  • Protect and expand local water supplies.
  • Protect groundwater basins and source water protection zones.
  • Reduce flood risk.
    • Site new construction to assure stable stream channels and minimize flood risk.
    • Require that new construction in flood prone areas be built to flood safe standards.
  • Protect natural stream functions.
    • Restore fisheries, riparian habitat, and wetland areas.
    • Explore opportunities for increased creek-side trails and open space.

During operations of existing facilities or services:

  • Manage local storm drainage systems with stream capacity to contain floodwaters.
  • Support measures to reduce the exposure to flood risk.
  • Support measures to enhance flood preparedness and knowledge of risk exposure.
  • Prepare critical facilities for operations during flood events or prolonged draught.
  • Reduce pollutants entering streams.


The interactive map below shows the location of San José and illustrates some of the city's key features, such as major creeks, flood zones and groundwater subbasins.

To view key features, choose a layer from the "Select a layer to display" menu on the map below. You can select multiple layers to view at one time; if you wish to turn off a layer, select it again from the menu. Individual layers contain specific data that you can access by clicking on the layer itself.





Key Water Resources Features

The City of San José includes portions of six major watersheds: Coyote, Guadalupe, Lower Penintencia, San Tomas, Calabazas and Baylands. In addition, four District reservoirs serve the City: Guadalupe, Calero, Almaden, and Anderson. Major creeks and rivers within the San José city limits include Calabazas, Coyote, Guadalupe, Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Tomas and Thompson. These reservoirs and creeks form the basis of an expansive water resources network.


Water Supply

The District works with the City of San Jose to ensure a reliable supply of clean, healthy water for a variety of uses. The City is divided into three water supply service areas: Evergreen, North San José/Alviso, and Edenvale & Coyote Valley. The District provides water to three water retailers operating in San José: San José Water Company, Great Oaks Water Company and the San José Municipal Water System. Of these three retailers, the San José Water Company provides the majority of water to the City.


Flood Protection

Along with a clean water supply, the water resources network carries storm water. Periodically, the volume of storm water exceeds carryiang capacity and clooding results. The most significant recent flood event in San José occurred in March of 1995, when the Guadalupe River overflowed its banks, flooding 300 homes and businesses and forcing residents and workers to evacuate the Downtown center. The flooding caused an estimated $10 million in damages.



Several factors contribute to the risk of flooding in San Jose, among them: the high susceptibility for erosion in the steeper elevations on the City's east side; greater amounts of impervious surfaces brought on by increased development; and the location of flood zones close to the Bay.


Citywide Programs and Projects

San José's growing population and development has resulted in greater demand for water—a demand that is only expected to increase in the coming years. There are measures to decrease demand for water while increasing local supply. The City has affirmed the importance of maintaining healthy, sustainable creeks for the benefit of water supply, natural flood protection, and for the wildlife and plant species that call it home. The following programs and projects illustrate ways that the District and the City are working together for a healthy San José.

Water Conservation

The District and the City encourage all residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10%. Both agencies provide a variety of ways to conserve and reduce water use. For information about the District's water conservation programs, visit; for City programs, visit


The City of San José administers the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) program that offers incentives to conserve water for businesses that implement processes and equipment desinged to reduce commercial, industrial and institutional water use. In other parts of Santa Clara County the District administers this program.


Water Recycling

The District partners with the South Bay Water Recycling network to  produce and distribute as much as 15 million gallons of recycled water per day through a network of more than 100 miles of pipeline.  Approximately 10% of treated wastewater is sold for irrigation purposes in San José.


Flood Protection and Stewardship

In order to protect people and property from flood damages, the District implements natural flood protection measures on the creeks and rivers that it controls. The District also encourages private land owners and institutions to adopt flood safe practices, and it partners with the City to construct projects that provide a high level of flood protection along with other community benefits.

The collaborative programs listed below show how diligent flood management and thoughtful environmental stewardship are integrally connected:




Trails, Parks and Open Space

In 2002, the District partnered with the City's Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services to plan, develop and implement joint trail projects. The Collaborative Action Plan helps the District and the City meet their shared goals of more open space and greater recreational opportunities through an enhanced network of public trails. Through its Clean Safe Creeks Program, the District seeks to provide funding for 70 miles of trail countywide; the City hopes to develop 100 miles of trails within its boundaries.

Related Plan Elements

The Related Plan Elements listed below identify some of the District strategies  applicable to the city. They provide the basis for cities to provide better management of key water resources features within their jurisdictions and to work more effectively with the District to address water resources managemenet issues.

Related Plan Elements

District Has Primary Jurisdiction
E- Identify existing stream conditions and stream characteristics and implement practical solutions where appropriate, to improve stream stability and its dynamic equilibrium. (P)
District Advocates
E- Provide technical advice and, if appropriate, work with municipalities to manage stormwater to address stream flooding and environmental benefits. (T)
District Advocates
E- Support and promote land use decisions to maintain stream capacity. (T)
District Advocates
E- Assist in the incorporation of flood-wise design features (e.g., minimize imperviousness, preserve natural drainage, rain harvesting and provide flood water detention) within the watershed. (T)
District Advocates
E- Promote awareness of risks for developing in flood hazard areas. (T)
District Collaborates
E- Engage in habitat conservation planning.(P and C)
District Collaborates
E- Protect, enhance and restore riparian vegetation and in-stream and tidal habitat conditions conducive to healthy ecology, including diked historical bayland wetlands, or former salt ponds. (P and C)
District Advocates
E- Promote the preservation of ecological buffers. (T)
District Collaborates
E- Promote the protection and preservation of water quality and providing stream stewardship. (C)
District Collaborates
E- Reduce pollutants in streams from urban runoff and minimize the effects on surface and ground water.
District Collaborates
E- Work with other entities for planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of trails/open space amenities.