The City of Saratoga, with 29,855 residents, is the smallest city in Santa Clara County. It also has the lowest population density within its 12 square miles, an area equal to the nearby City of Mountain View. This Silicon Valley bedroom community in the southwestern corner of the Santa Clara Valley has the 15th highest median household income in the nation (2000 US Census Bureau).

Shared Responsibilities

City policies are outlined in Saratoga's General Plan that serves as a guide for elements such as land use, circulation and natural resources. The City works to protect its water quality along with the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) and is one of thirteen cities participating in the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program (SCVURPPP). The Open Space Element of the Saratoga General Plan contains most of the City’s policies governing watershed management. This is supplemented by guidance available through other agencies. These implementations include:

  • Publishing a Residential Design Handbook, Tree Protection Handbook, along with community-specific documents, such as the Hillside Specific Plan and Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road Gateway Design Guidelines.
  • Adopting the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) document Start at the Source
  • Using the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) Erosion and Sediment Control Field Manual
  • Distributing the Santa Clara Valley Water District mailer Stay Safe Before, During, and After a Flood
  • Implementing FEMA requirements for evaluating flood hazards and construction in hazard area

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 Saratoga 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 Saratoga transects the Calabazas, San Tomas Aquino and Saratoga watersheds. The Stevens Creek Reservoir provides water for the city. Major creeks and rivers within the Saratoga city limits include Calabazas, Mistletoe, Prospect, Rodeo, San Tomas Aquino, Saratoga, Sobey, Vasona, and Wildcat. These reservoirs and creeks form the basis of an expansive water resources network.

Water Supply

The District works with the City of Saratoga to ensure a reliable water supply. The San José Water Company (SJWC) provides all of the City’s water. SJWC sources its water principally from the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) with the remainder being supplied by surface water supplied by the Saratoga Creek. Both sources are chlorinated.

Saratoga is actively involved with Bay Area Regional Water Recycling (BARWR) through the South Bay Advanced Recycled Water Treatment Facility. Collectively, BARWR agencies have invested nearly $300 million of local funds in water recycling projects. Federal investment in these highly leveraged, locally managed projects will help ensure the security of water supplies in the Western United States for years to come. Beyond this involvement, the City lacks policies or requirements for water recycling or water conservation.

Flood Protection

Development within 100-year floodplains is subject to various regulations and ordinances. Construction standards ensure sound development while controlling erosion and sedimentation. Saratoga also uses the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) Erosion and Sediment Control Field Manual.

Citywide Programs and Projects

The City respects the importance of maintaining healthy riparian habitats—for the benefit of the water supply, natural flood protection, and local ecology. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy, participation in countywide Household Hazardous Waste program, and active street tree planting as well as preservation of native and heritage trees, are examples of citywide projects in place to protect the watershed.



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 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 Advocates
E- Provide information on stormwater management and design of floodplains and channels. (T)
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.