Los Gatos


The Town of Los Gatos is a self-contained community of 28,592 located at the base of the Sierra Azules approximately 60 miles south of San Francisco, in the southwestern portion of Santa Clara County. The town is predominantly residential, with a pedestrian-oriented downtown area. Los Gatos includes many parks and trails.

Los Gatos encompasses varied terrain, from flat topography at the edge of the valley floor to densely wooded hillsides.  Both the valley and hillsides are interspersed with creeks, streams and riparian habitat.

Shared Responsibilities

The town outlines water resources goals and policies in its General Plan. The District works with the town to ensure policy alignment and supports Los Gatos on a number of programs and projects. The town's goals regarding water resources include:

  • Conserving water resources
  • Protecting and preserving watersheds
  • Minimizing storm water runoff
  • Promoting water conservation and efficient use
  • Ensuring adequate water supply for plants and animals
  • Protecting riparian corridors

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 Los Gatos 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

Los Gatos transects the San Tomas Aquino, Guadalupe and Los Gatos creek watersheds. The Vasona Reservoir lies within the town limits, and Lexington Reservoir borders the town to the south.

Water Supply

Los Gatos' water is provided by the San José Water Company. The city's General Plan contains comprehensive policies regarding water supply and water conservation, with an overall approach toward ensuring adequate water supply resources and improving water quality. The city's Hillside Development Standards and Guidelines promotes water conservation by encouraging the use of drought tolerant vegetation.

Flood Protection

Los Gatos Muncipal Code includes a number of regulations related to flood protection. These regulations include development standards for construction in flood hazard areas, erosion and sediment control, enforcement procedures for the protection of watercourses, and several policies to help minimize impervious surface areas.

Watershed Health

Preserving existing creeks and riparian habitat in as natural a state as possible is a primary goal of the town's conservation element. It seeks to protect riparian corridors and sets forth a number of policies toward that goal. These policies direct the town to retain creek beds, riparian corridors and water courses and to utilize restricitve setbacks to protect corridors. The Plan also seeks to preserve existing trees and associated vegetation in the natural state.

Citywide Programs and Projects

The City and the District collaborate on projects to maintain the health of the watershed and water quality, establish natural flood protection and provide access to open space and trails. Recent projects include:

  • 2004 Riconada Water Treatment Plant Construction Update


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- 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 community awareness about best practices to avoid or minimize exposure to flooding potential. (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- Identify and incorporate stream rehabilitation measures into capital projects and operations to avoid, minimize and/or impacts to watersheds, streams and natural resources. (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- Provide hazardous materials management and incident response. (P and C)
District Collaborates
E- Promote the protection and preservation of water quality and providing stream stewardship. (C)
District Advocates
E- Promote the preservation of riparian corridors and provide guidance supporting watershed health to the entire community. (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.
District Collaborates
E- Increase public access to District lands as appropriate; extend trails network.