The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s (Valley Water) Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program has many priorities, including eight projects under Priority D for “restoring and protecting vital wildlife habitat and providing opportunities for increased access to trails and open space". In 2010, during the development of the foundational roots of the Priority D5 Project: Ecological Data Collection and Analysis effort, Valley Water implemented a watershed approach to environmental monitoring and assessment using the State's Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan’s (WRAMP) 3-level framework recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).  Since then the D5 Project completed five watershed-wide baseline assessments characterizing the amount, distribution, and diversity of aquatic resource in five major watersheds within Santa Clara County, and characterizing the overall ecological conditions of streams in each watershed employing CRAM. The purpose of these assessments is to align the collection and analysis of ecological data with the needs of water resource decision-makers by collecting data that address specific management questions developed by Valley Water's resource managers.  Each watershed will be reassessed every 10-15 years to begin to track change over time. 

The D5 Project's watershed survey's employ several free, online standardized monitoring and assessment tools developed for statewide use to support the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State including: the California Aquatic Resources Inventory (CARI, the statewide GIS-based aquatic resource basemap), California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) for streams, and EcoAtlas (an interactive, online data management, visualization, and public access website).  

Progress to Date and Report Links:

  1. Baseline watershed condition assessments were completed between 2010 and 2018 (individual watershed baseline reports can be found at the following links)     
    • Coyote Creek Watershed (2010
    • Guadalupe River Watershed (2012
    • Upper Pajaro River Watershed (2015)
    • Lower Peninsula Watershed (2016)
    • West Valley Watershed (2018)
  2. The Santa Clara County Five Watersheds Assessment Synthesis Report  was completed in 2020, and presents the baseline conditions and compares ecological conditions among the five watersheds
  3. 10-Year Watershed Reassessments starting in 2020 to track change over time
  4. Guadalupe River Watershed Reassessment is scheduled for 2022

The CRAM field assessments are coordinated by SFEI's lead CRAM Trainer and Practioner, Sarah Pearce, who is the overall logistics lead and QA officer. The field assessments have been completed by a large team of trained CRAM Practioners from SFEI, Valley Water, Michael Baker International, ICF, and the Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG). The Project would like to acknowlege and thank Don Stevens, Tom Kincaid, and Tony Olsen of the USEPA for their advise and review on the watershed survey designs that employed the Generally Random Tesselated Stratified (GRTS) design and analysis tools (spsurvey in R). The CRAM ambient survey field assessment results for all the watersheds have been uploaded to the statewide CRAM database (www.cramwetlands.org) and are available online through the EcoAtlas data visualization, access, and summary tools (www.ecoatlas.org).

Dates: 
2009 to 2024
Partners: 
Funders: 
Lisa Porcella (SCVWD)
Doug Titus (SCVWD)
Zooey Diggory (SCVWD)
Michael Baker and staff (Michael Baker International)
Lindsay Tunis and staff (ICF)
Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG)
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Wetland Monitoring & Assessment
Location Information
General Project Location(s): 
Santa Clara County, CA