The creeks and rivers that helped form the picturesque Santa Clara Valley are an integral part of the natural beauty of the area. They are also subject to periodic flooding.
Spanish settlers began arriving in the valley in 1769 and found about 10,000 Ohlone natives living in the area. The Ohlone knew during times of heavy rains the valley's creeks and rivers could overflow, and following tradition they would temporarily move their villages to higher ground when that occurred.
As the area's population grew, permanent settlements were established along the valley's waterways, settlements that could not be relocated when creek waters rose. Consequently, the natural periodic overflowing of local creeks and rivers began to be more than an occasional inconvenience - flooding began to threaten the new homes, businesses and lives.
Protecting homes, businesses and transportation networks from the devastating effects of floods is one of the main jobs of the water district. Through the years as the county’s population and economy have grown, the water district has worked to keep pace with ongoing stream maintenance and construction of flood protection projects. Since the early 1980s, the water district has invested more than a billion dollars in flood protection programs, including constructing major flood protection projects, and protected more than 93,000 properties in previously flood-prone areas.
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