Full pond surrounded by bright green hills under a clear blue sky, the water reflecting the hillsides and sky

Clean Water

Protecting Clean Water Supplies 

Roughly 50% of Santa Clara County’s water supply comes from watersheds within the County’s boundaries. The Authority has protected more than 10,000 acres of vital watershed lands in the Santa Clara Valley.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that acts like a giant sponge, absorbing rainfall and melting snow and drains the accumulated water into surrounding streams and downstream reservoirs. Pristine watersheds provide a natural system of water absorption, filtering and storage, and allow for groundwater recharge and natural flood protection. Check out how the water cycle works.

Water Supply and flood control Challenges

Rapid urbanization has led to the loss of floodplains, which are lands crucial to flood prevention and our water supply. Demand for water in the Bay Area will increase by 22% between 2013-2035 given the projected population growth (SPUR 2013). Climate change will add even more stress and unpredictability to regional water supplies.

The Authority is partnering with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to explore how land conservation can address these challenges, including the role of Coyote Valley as the City of San Jose's 'natural infrastructure' that provides essential flood control services.

Still pond surrounded by green hills under a clear blue sky
Looking down onto bright green meadow with small pond
Green pond at the bottom of golden hills covered in oak trees

Our Approach

The Authority will protect and restore water resources to benefit local communities and the environment, and to provide resilience to a changing climate.

Learn more about water resources in the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint.

Water Resources

Strategies include:

  1. Prioritizing conservation projects that link protection of water supplies to flood control, water quality, groundwater recharge, and climate resilience.
  2. Participating in watershed-level planning efforts to identify and coordinate regional priorities for water resource protection.
  3. Promoting new tools, partnerships, and resources to protect water resources and services through public and private investments.
  4. Protecting and restoring water resources on Open Space Authority properties.
  5. Engaging the community in watershed research, education, and outreach activities.
Forest creek surrounded by mossy rocks and green trees
Reeds and green trees surrounding green pond
Young girl in pink shirt crouching next to forest creek with fallen leaves