Cooperatove Conservation Project

Guadalupe River Project, San Jose, California

Guadalupe River Project Restores Downtown Watershed Gracefully

Location: Far West Region: California

Project Summary: This project provides 100-year flood protection, habitat protection, water quality protection, fish & wildlife enhancement, and recreation & open space features within the Guadalupe River watershed.
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Log Crib Wall Constructed to Stabilize River Bend
Resource Challenge

Construction on the $250M Guadalupe River Project was interrupted in 1996 due to action by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) and by the National Heritage Institute’s (NHI) filing of a Notice of Intent to Sue under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act. The Regional Board and NHI challenged the project design claiming that it would cause unacceptable impacts to water quality, riparian and aquatic habitat, and listed fisheries. These challenges triggered the initiation of a collaborative process with the project proponents, state and Federal resource agencies, and the potential litigants. For nearly 3 years, this group of scientists, resource agency professionals, and public officials met as the Guadalupe River Project Collaborative (Collaborative) and engaged in an alternative dispute resolution to resolve the resource issues raised by Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Notice of Intent to Sue.

Examples of Key Partners

• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District

• Santa Clara Valley Water District

• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

• National Marine Fisheries Service

• California Department of Fish and Game

• State Water Resources Control Board

• San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

• City of San Jose

• Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose

• Natural Heritage Institute, representing: Guadalupe-Coyote Resource Conservation District, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Trout Unlimited

Results and Accomplishments

From 1997 to 2001, the Guadalupe Collaborative team set the benchmark for Collaborative success in modern planning of a large-scale complex California flood protection project. The Collaborative’s design goals of minimizing/mitigating for the loss of shaded riverine aquatic cover vegetation, avoiding water temperature increases, and avoiding/mitigating for the loss of fisheries habitat, were reached in 2001. A key outcome of the Collaborative was the re-design of the project to include a double box bypass culvert to help convey flood flows while avoiding and maintaining critical riparian and shaded riverine aquatic habitats. The success of the Collaborative was demonstrated in the potential litigants’ withdrawal letter. The success allowed project construction to move forward with a revised design acceptable to all Collaborative participants. Since 2001, the Collaborative team has forged ahead with that plan and executed on schedule the construction and implementation of an extraordinary urban project. With the construction now 95% complete, the many public benefits associated with this project including flood protection, habitat protection, environmental quality protection, community development, urban riparian corridor public access and recreation are now a reality.


The Guadalupe River Project demonstrates that within a short period of time, public/private collaboration on a large scale multi-purpose watershed project can achieve desired results for all entities involved .

Project Contact
Bradley C. Hubbard
Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers
1325 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 557-7054
David J. Chesterman
Guadalupe Watershed Division Manager
Santa Clara Valley Water District
5750 Almaden Expressway
San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 265-2600

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