Dec 18, 2018

First Phase of San Francisquito Creek Flood Project Completed

The flood control project will protect homes from a 100-year flood event

Palo Alto, Calif., completes major flood control project
Palo Alto, Calif., completes major flood control project

The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority announced the completion of the first phase of the San Francisquito Creek flood protection project in East Palo Alto, Calif. The creek was widened from Highway 1010 to the Bay, with higher rock and dirt levees to protect homes, businesses, a golf course and an airport from a 100-year flood event.

The $76 million phase 1 project aims to protect East Palo Alto homes from sea-level rise, as reported by Palo Alto Weekly. The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, who completed the project, was formed follow February 1998 storms that  caused the creek to overflow and includes representatives from the cities of Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, the San Mateo county Flood Control District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The 1998 floods affected 1,700 homes in three cities and caused more than $28 million in damage, rendering a flood control solution necessary.

Phase 1 improvements include a widened creek channel, a horizontal levee and native plantings.

“We have basically turned the creek that was constantly threatening the  communities around it and turned it into something we don’t have to worry about from rain or from sea level rise for decades to come,” said Len Materman, project manager with the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority.

The first phase restored 22 acres of marsh, with the Palo Alto golf course receiving the largest gain in native habitat at 12 acres. The second phase of the project will cover upstream habitat and construction is expected to begin in 2020. According to local news network KRON4, funding was provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Caltrans and several San Mateo County jurisdictions.

“This is really the first of three phases, next up we will go to work on the creek east of Highway 101 where there are many thousands of properties to protect,” said Materman. “This is also the cornerstone of 11 miles of shoreline we’re working on to guard against sea level rise.”