Water table

Have you ever wondered about the depth of the water table, or if the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont and nearby neighborhoods have a high water table?

Today I checked the website of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, also known as Valley Water, for info on our water table’s depth. Our water table is more shallow than I expected, just 10 – 20 feet in our far east corner of Los Gatos!

I marked up a screenshot and linked the map to the source, so if you click on it you will find our neighborhood water depth info on the Valley Water site.

 

Map of groundwater depth in Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, and nearby - water table

Click to visit the Valley Water site for groundwater depth

Ours is not the highest water table area or the smallest depth to first groundwater. The Edelen District, near Old Town Los Gatos, appears to have a depth of just 5-10′. It’s close to the Los Gatos Creek, so I imagine that may have something to do with it as well as seepage from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Unsurprisingly, when I checked areas adjacent to the San Francisco Bay, the depth to first groundwater was between 0 and 5 feet.

What is a high water table? Does the Belwood area have a high water table?

Per Cotterill Civil Engineers:

A high water table area is defined as any area where the water table is within 1.8 metres, or 6 feet off the ground surface during the frost period up until the end of August or within 2.4 metres or 8 feet of the ground surface during the rest of the year.

It looks like the answer is no, we don’t have a high water table here generally. The depth to groundwater can change with heavy rains or with drought, so it is possible that at times water could percolate up in some circumstance. Since this is the average range for our area, any particular home or parcel may have something unique and different. You’d need to do some sort of testing to find out the actual depth to first groundwater for any specific address.

Other water issues

Many homes in this area do have water issues as there’s runoff from the hills, and sump pumps are commonly found in homes in our neighborhood. Water can travel downhill both above and below the surface, my drainage experts tell me. Not every property has the same level of challenges with managing surface or subsurface water. Foundation problems, which often are related to water issues, are not super uncommon, either, but most can be prevented by managing the flow of water away from the house, particularly from the downspouts. That’s low cost prevention but of the homes I see, probably only 10% have the water directed away from the home. Big mistake!

Curious about the groundwater depth beyond Santa Clara County? I found a list of the groundwater depth in various cities or towns in California which shows most of Los Gatos as having at least 10′.  Parts of Foster City and Redwood Shores (Redwood City) have less than 5′.

 

Related Reading

Where are the natural hazards in Los Gatos? (on the Live in Los Gatos Blog)

Interactive map to view risk of flooding from dam failure in Los Gatos (Live in Los Gatos Blog – our area does not appear to be in these zones)

What to consider when buying a hillside home in Silicon Valley (on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

Belwood of Los Gatos July 4th Celebration

The Belwood of Los Gatos community is hosting its annual Independence Day or 4th of July celebration and the details are announced on the Belwood HOA website. The neighborhood festivities run from 1 – 5 at the cabaña.  Read all about it on the Belwood HOA site!

The party is open to Belwood residents and their invited guests only. This will be the first July 4th community party since 2019, and it’s a great opportunity for newer residents, especially, to get to know their neighbors.

Please note that since the weather is warm, dry, and windy, the risk of fire danger is high right now.  A sign at Belgatos Park warns that viewing fireworks is strictly prohibited.

Belwood Cabaña is on FacebookGot Facebook? If so, you might consider “liking” the Belwood Cabaña page on Facebook.  They are great at keeping people updated on neighborhood events (this is not my page, btw).  That’s where I first learned that the holiday is being celebrated in traditional fashion.

Park for Parks

The Town of Los Gatos is hosting Park for Parks, a fun and informative event, at Belgatos Park on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring your lunch and learn about bird watching, mountain biking, and much more.

There will be live music and a variety of booths (no food booths that I can find). All the details are on the town’s website – links posted below.

Belgatos Park - park for parks

Park for Park info on booths and what’s happening at this Belgatos Park event:

Check out all of the details on the town’s website page dedicated to events.

Is your sump pump ready for winter rains?

Graphic image: how's your sump pump?Many residents in Los Gatos and nearby communities such as the Los Gatos mountain communities, Almaden Valley, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, the Cupertino foothills, etc. have sump pumps in their crawl space to pull off water that can accumulate below the house.

Water can get there for a variety of reasons, such as reverse grading (the soil should slope gently away from the house, but in some cases the slope is unfortunately toward the house), downspouts not being extended to carry roof water away from the structure, or even underground water bubbling up from below (that’s a problem for a drainage expert, not a do-it-yourself job). These situations often happen during periods of heavy rain.

Sump Pump Options

Like any other appliance, sump pumps come in all ranges of quality and performance from bare bones and portable to full of bells and whistles. They also get old and need maintenance from time to time, and they can fail. Some will turn on automatically, some must be switched on manually (assuming you are home to do it). Some run only on electricity, and will be no good to you during a power outage. Others come equipped with a battery backup.

If it’s been a long time since you have checked in on your sump pump, now is a good time to do it (or pay someone else to inspect it). Also check to see if the soil under the houses is graded or has channels to bring water to the sump pump. Also double check the downspouts to insure that they are carrying water away from your home / foundation.  The best time to inspect all of this is before you need it. (Anyone with air conditioning knows how hard it is to get a service call on a malfunctioning AC unit during a heat wave!)

Time to upgrade? I would suggest looking into sump pumps with battery backups so that it works even if the power goes off – that may be when you need it most. It would also be good to have one that can register water accumulating and turn on automatically.

 

Related reading:

Cracked Foundations, Adobe Clay Soils and Water in Silicon Valley (on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

What is a cripple wall? (on popehandy.com)

What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Water Table (on this site)

Belwood Bingo and Movie Nights Coming Soon

Belwood Cabana Movie Night

Another “Bingo and Movie Nights”  is planned for this summer for cabaña members and residents of Belwood, Surmont and Belgatos on Saturday June 26. At 6 pm the music starts, at 7 pm it’s bingo, and the film, Yes Day, starts at 8:15 pm.

Bring something comfy to sit on – blankets, sleeping bags, lawn chairs etc. Popcorn, cotton candy, and other treats are available for purchase!

For more information, keep an eye on the Belwood HOA website page for bingo and movie nights.

Belwood Cabana June 2016

Home fire hardening

With the increase of fires in recent years, California has a new fire disclosure law on the books, AB 39 (2019). In response, the California Association of Realtors has come out with a new home fire hardening form. This is a new advisory and disclosure document combined, “C.A.R. Form FHDS, 5/21 Fire Hardening and Defensible Space Advisory, Disclosure, and Addendum”. It’s intended to help sellers and buyers be more aware of what can be done to make a home more resistant to fire.

Selling a home in a high fire risk zone? Expect these home fire hardening questions

In one section of the document, home sellers are asked if they have made the following alterations:

  1. Eave, soffit, and roof ventilation where the vents have openings in excess of one-eighth of an inch or are not flame and ember resistant.
  2. Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes.
  3. Combustible landscaping or other materials within five feet of the home and under the footprint of any attached deck. (Wood chips and mulch may not be a good idea!)
  4. Single pane or non-tempered glass windows.
  5. Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing.
  6. Rain gutters without metal or noncombustible gutter covers.

All of us who are near Belgatos Park and nearby open spaces can benefit from improving our home’s safety should a fire breakout nearby. We recently measured our vent screens and found them to be 1/4 inch, so will be improving that. It’s a good list.

There’s a longer article on my main blog. Check it out for more information:
NEW California Disclosure – Home Fire Hardening Disclosure and Advisory

Below there’s also a document from the CA Assn of Realtors on the law. This is a good article with helpful information – I highly recommend it.

 

Related reading:

Los Gatos Fire Risk (Live in Los Gatos blog)

A History of Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department (Live in Los Gatos blog)

CA Association of Realtors: Home Fire Hardening Disclosure Law, Feb 2021 (the form was updated in May 2021)

Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, and Heritage Grove demographic data

City-Data demographic info on Belwood area residents' educationCity-Data shares demographic data by neighborhood. While the maps aren’t always precise, they provide some insights for smaller parts of the town of Los Gatos. Please take it with a big grain of salt – as you view the demographic data data, you’ll find some questionable results (such as the average household size being 16 people here!).

The “Belwood” area map includes all of Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont, and Heritage Grove. Curious? Check it out at the City-Data Belwood page.