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San José's Creeks & Rivers
San José has miles of open creeks, rivers, and waterways. These creeks and rivers create a network that spans the City and Santa Clara Valley and connects with the South San Francisco Bay. This network of waterways provides critical habitat for native plants and animals, and also provides opportunity for recreation and enjoyment of nature.

What watershed are you located in?
A watershed is a land area that drains water into a stream, lake, wetland, bay or estuary, or percolates into groundwater. Watersheds come in different shapes and sizes. Local watersheds are parts of larger, regional basins. Our Santa Clara basin, for example, is a sub-basin of the larger San Francisco Bay Basin.

A watershed begins at the top of a hill or mountain ridge and is ultimately defined by gravity. The Santa Clara Basin is bounded by the Diablo Mountains to the east and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south and west. Raindrops falling east of the Santa Cruz Mountains ridgeline or west of the Diablo Range hills flow into our watershed. South San Francisco Bay receives the runoff water of our watersheds.

The following six major watersheds are located in the City of San José:
  • Coyote
  • Guadalupe
  • Lower Penintenica
  • San Tomas
  • Calabazas
  • Baylands

Check the maps of the City’s watersheds to find out what watershed you are located in. You can also read the stencil on the stormdrain near your house or business to find out what river or creek the water on your street flows into.

Your activities can impact the watershed
Water that enters our City storm drain system flows untreated into the nearest creek or river and ultimately to the San Francisco Bay. Stormwater runoff, in the form of rain or irrigation water, collects pollutants by flowing over sidewalks, driveways, curbs, and landscaping.

Common pollutants such as litter, oilsoap, paint, copper, nickel, mercury, and pesticides can degrade, or impair, water quality in our local creeks and rivers. Less commonly recognized pollutants, such as leaves or landscape clippings can reduce the amount of oxygen available in the creeks for fish which makes it difficult for fish to live. Even soil and sediment can impair water quality, both by degrading spawning habitat in the creeks and by carrying pollutants such as copper, nickel and other heavy metals that readily bind to sediment. Rivers carrying excessive sediment and other pollutants can significantly reduce spawning habitat for fish, which in turn impacts other wildlife. These pollutants, individually and cumulatively, adversely affect fish, plants and wildlife that live in and depend on the City’s rivers and creeks.