Valley Water building steel wall to protect South Bay communities from Coyote Creek flooding

Dustin Dorsey Image
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Valley Water building steel wall to protect from Coyote Creek flooding
Valley Water is working to protect communities in the flood zone by creating a wall between them and the water.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Valley Water is working to protect communities in the flood zone by creating a wall between them and the water.

With every major storm that hits San Jose, residents who live near Coyote Creek can't help but say a silent prayer.

It is a wish that nothing like what happened in 2017 ever happens again.

"You would've been standing ankle-deep in water up here," Graham Stitchman said. "If you had gone over to 17th Street, there were some houses where you would just see the peak of their roof sticking up out of the water."

Valley Water is trying to give residents along the creek a little more peace of mind.

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The flood protection agency is literally building a barrier between water and land.

A 9-mile stretch of the Coyote Creek from Montague Expressway to Tully Road will soon be protected by these flood walls.

"When a creek overflows, it basically exceeds the capacity of the water that the creek itself can carry," said Valley Water Deputy Operating Officer Bhavani Yerrapotu. "So, when you build flood walls on either side, you're providing more of that space, or volume, for the water to be held back."

A large stretch of the walls is installed near Berryessa. They stand between three to 10 feet tall, depending on the creek capacity in the area.

What you don't see is the 30 feet of reinforced steel below the surface, providing a strong force to keep flood waters at bay.

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Engineers tend to avoid the word never, so while they can't stay 2017 will never happen again. Valley Water is confident these walls will work.

"A 20-year storm is essentially the design here, that we are designing this project around approximately," Yerrapotu said. "Likely that kind of record in terms of storms will not cause as much of damage that we saw back then."

For people who lived through that damage, a little peace of mind for the next storms.

"It should work," Stitchman said. "We'll have to wait and see. I'm willing to wait 100 years to find out."

Construction started last summer.

The first 40% of the project will be finished by next summer before it's on to the next phase.

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