Coyote Valley restoration project recharging South Bay's groundwater amid CA's drought

BySpencer Christian and Tim Didion KGO logo
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Coyote Valley restoration helping to recharge South Bay groundwater
Coyoted Valley restoration project could hold key battling California's drought and climate change.

SANTA CLARA CO., Calif. (KGO) -- Flying over the sweeping green hills, Coyote Valley can seem a world away from the urban core of Santa Clara County. But when it comes to water, it's connected in ways that are becoming increasingly important in the face of drought and climate change.

"Absolutely. Coyote Valley is a great model for what can be done around the state," says Marc Landgraf of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority helped secure land in the northern part of the valley for restoration. Landgraf says the area is a key resource for both natural flood control, and recharging the area's critical groundwater aquifers, which connect to basins in the Santa Clara Valley. The watershed gathers at the valley's low point, Laguna Seca, during the rainy season.

"Which allows floodwaters to spread during big storm events. That also allows recharge of the aquifer that connects to the water source for the two million people here in the South Bay," he explains.

The surrounding area has been at the center of a long running land-use battle in the South Bay - with some landowners arguing for development.

Other local farmowners like Luis Gaytan believe the restoration can work for growers.

"I think it's all very, very important. And I think we should balance, you know, and try to protect the water. And again, share the water, but you know, not use too much," says Gaytan.

Restoration work is already started at two nearby waterways including Fisher Creek. Young volunteers helped replant the banks. Landgraf says the team hopes to ultimately restore their natural connection to the flood plain.

"We're putting it back to how nature wanted it to be. So nature can help us be more resilient to climate change," he says.

They say it's an evolving concept of water management, that may provide lessons for other areas as well. Working with the natural infrastructure, to restore the areas once plentiful groundwater basins.