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Protecting Fish Habitat

Throughout the Santa Clara Valley watersheds, the water district is helping protect and restore fish habitat. Concern for fish has resulted in dramatic changes in the ways the water district constructs flood protection projects and conducts other business.

In many areas, the water district has planted trees for shade and strategically placed tree root wads and logs to create fish habitat. Other efforts which benefit fish include removal of migration barriers, spawning gravel placement, and the creation of pools and riffles. 

Fish laddersChinook

For the first time in perhaps six decades, steelhead are passing the district campus in search of suitable spawning grounds in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains in the Guadalupe watershed. Passage past the district campus was made possible by completion of the fish ladder at the Alamitos drop structure. The project allows salmonids and other species to bypass the 1930s-era dam using a series of steps to navigate the difference in river elevation. 

One of the first migrating salmon swimming upstream of the district campus.

 Alamitos Fish Ladder Prior to the completion of the fish ladder at the Alamitos drop structure, two barriers further downstream on the Guadalupe River at the Old Hillsdale Bridge and at the San Jose Water Company crossing (Koch Lane) were remediated to help open upstream habitat for fish.

In 2001, another fish ladder was built at the Mason Dam site in Guadalupe Creek two miles upstream of its confluence with the Guadalupe River.

In 2004, in the San Jose downtown section of the Guadalupe River at St. Johns Street, a stream gauge weir was removed to also ease fish passage. Fish ladders have also been built in Coyote, Upper Penitencia, Stevens, Uvas, and Llagas Creeks.

Alamitos Fish Ladder