Uvas Creek levee project completed

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A $3.3 million upgrade and rehabilitation project on the Uvas Creek Levee, which provides flood control and recreation functions for Gilroy, was completed this winter.

The board of directors of Valley Water, which manages the levee, this week formally accepted a report on the 15-month project, which winds around the west and southwest edges of Gilroy along Christmas Hill Park.

The levee rehabilitation work began in August 2018 and was completed by the end of last November.

Built in the 1980s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the levee had suffered extensive damage from ground squirrels, the water district reported. The burrows, tunnels and holes for the little mammals were so extensive that they threatened the integrity of the flood control barrier.

“That could have caused the levee to fail and decrease the flood protection measures for the community including homes, businesses and schools,” district staff reported at a special Feb. 11 meeting of the board.

Valley Water rebuilt the levee, and taking into account the active wildlife, laid down a heavy-gauge chain link fabric, draped and anchored over the levee slopes. Also, about 6,700 feet of trail access road was rehabilitated and widened, improving an important bicycle and jogging path for city residents. 

The project rebuilt the levee to its as-built condition and implementing measures to prevent further holes from occurring. It removed and replaced both banks from Miller Avenue south to the Gilroy Sports Park.

The objective of the project was to address the existing rodent damage along the inboard and outboard sides of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ certified Uvas Creek Levee from Miller Avenue to the end of the levee for 4,200 linear feet of the levee facility, and to prevent the threat of future erosion to the impacted areas.

The project also repaired damage to approximately 4,100 feet of the inboard face of the levee, downstream of Miller Avenue towards the end of the levee, which is downstream of West Luchessa Avenue, adjacent to the City of Gilroy Sports Park.

The district said the project will reduce frequent maintenance costs associated with levee erosion repair and reduce the risk of levee/bank slope failure due to damage caused by burrowing animals.