Background of the City

Known to some as the “heart” of Silicon Valley, Cupertino is home to an estimated 50,546 residents. This increasingly pedestrian-oriented community is split between residential and technical/industrial design.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District partners closely with the City of Cupertino, as well as local organizations and businesses, to ensure a reliable supply of water for a range of residential and commercial uses.


Shared Responsibilities

Most policies guiding development and use of resources in Cupertino are contained in the City's General Plan. 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 ahead, further collaboration or partnership will facilitate sustainable development, particularly in the following land use areas:

When evaluating land use decisions:

  • Provide contractors and developers with the Construction Best Management Practices (BMPs) Selection Matrix to promote post-construction structural and non-structural BMPs
  • Provide landowners with guidance promoting watershed health and minimizing erosion
  • Prevent new construction in urbanized flood hazard areas recognized by the Federal Flood Insurance Administration (FFIA) and prohibition of dwellings in the 100-year floodplain
  • Implement a “Build It Green” new home construction certification program

During operations of existing facilities or services:

  • Include water-wise demonstration gardens in parks as they are re-landscaped or improved.
  • Work with the County Master Gardeners to identify water-wise plant materials and irrigation methods for use in public and private areas.
  • Protect natural stream functions.


The interactive map below shows the location of Cupertino 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. Individual layers contain specific data that you can access by clicking on the layer itself.



Key Water Resources Features

The City of Cupertino lies primarily within the Calabazas Creek Watershed Unit, with portions in Permanente Creek, Saratoga Creek, Stevens Creek, Sunyvale East and Sunnyvale West watersheds. The Stevens Creek Reservoir serves the City's water supply needs.

Water Supply

Cupertino has two major water suppliers: the California Water Company and the San José Water Company. Both of these retailers purchase their water supply from the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The City recognizes that a sustainable future is intertwined with an adequate supply of clean water. Its General Plan states, “in addition to fundamental health and sanitation, an adequate potable water supply provides significant public and private benefits such as irrigation, ecological habitat, recreation opportunities and aesthetics.” Its efforts have, however, changed from attempting to increase supply (through the creation of dams and reservoirs) to conserving water and increasing efficient usage (through wise planning, xeriscape design and construction of sites, buildings and land uses).

Flood Protection

All water eventually flows to the sea. Controlling flooding also helps control damage from erosion and the transport of pollutants. To rally the community in this effort, the City of Cupertino has encouraged “adoption” of streams by community groups. These organizations participate in clean-ups, restoration, and monitoring. The community is also working with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and other regional agencies to enhance riparian corridors and flood control increasing the flow capacity of creeks. The City is also changing codes to limit paved surfaces and encourage the use of non-impervious materials, onsite infiltration, and water retention facilities.


Citywide Programs and Projects

Population and development pressures throughout Silicon Valley have resulted in greater demand for water and those demands are expected to increase in the years ahead. The City is actively working to minimize the negative impacts of this growth on the water supply, limit the potential for flooding, and reduce eradication of local flora and fauna. Programs such as the Stevens Creek Restoration Plan provide a comprehensive response to issues of water supply, flood protection and stewardship.

The City is also working to "lead by example" by implementing water saving measures within its municipal facilities, including low-flow shower heads and toilets and faucet aerators. The City is currently pilot testing five faucet sensors. Its public works department is investigating water conservation opportunities for city irrigation, including flow meters and computerized evolution clocks. Results of these programs will be realized in the city's water audit, performed in 2009 to benchmark municipal water consumption in 2005 and implement a system for ongoing tracking and auditing.

Water Conservation and Quality

Water conservation is of great economic, social and environmental importance. Accordingly, the City is actively pursuing interagency coordination for regional water supply problem solving. Urban runoff is recognized as a significant contributor to Bay pollution. Initially, many of the urban runoff pollution control measures centered on education and eliminating illegal discharges. As the public has become more aware of the urban runoff problem and illegal discharges elimination, the focus has shifted to controlling the impacts of new and re-development. Pest-resistant landscaping, companion planting, mulching, and release of beneficial insects are also being employed to reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Needed to compliment these policies are similar efforts to collect mercury and fluorescent lighting.

Water Recycling

Groundwater provides approximately half of the total water demands in Santa Clara County. The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages this groundwater. The District seeks to maximize water supply, protect the basins from contamination, and ensure that groundwater supply is sustained. Groundwater maintenance is accomplished, in part, through percolation ponds and in-stream recharge of the creeks. The McClellan Ponds recharge facility is located in Cupertino.

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

The City’s current and continued health and prosperity depends, in part, on the ability of its natural resources to renew themselves. Cupertino’s western foothills and mountains, and stretches along Stevens Creek, represent the Community’s most diverse habitats. Urbanization of the valley floor is the result of historic agricultural activities, and the introduction of non-native grasses and crops. Accordingly, the City reviews development plans for opportunities for use of native plants and drought tolerant, non-invasive plants. New development is currently directed toward clustering properties away from sensitive areas such as riparian corridors, wildlife habitat and corridors, public open space preserves and ridgelines. Interagency cooperation in buying properties is being pursued to complete a contiguous greenbelt.

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- Develop and provide technical advice on the design of floodplains and channels that incorporates the physical and dynamic equilibrium of streams. (P and T)
District Advocates
E- Promote removal or abandonment of infrastructure located within floodplains. (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- Encourage and provide technical assistance in mitigating erosion, sedimentation and high flows from new development or redevelopments. (T)
District Advocates
E- Promote awareness of risks for developing in flood hazard areas. (T)
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 Collaborates
E- Protect, enhance, restore and/or create habitats for key species indicative of watershed health. (C)
District Advocates
E- Promote the preservation of ecological buffers. (T)
District Advocates
E- Promote the preservation of riparian corridors and provide guidance supporting watershed health to the entire community. (T)