Matadero Watershed


The Matadero Creek watershed covers an area of about 14 square miles, of which approximately 11 square miles are mountainous land, and 3 square miles are gently sloping valley floor. Matadero Creek originates in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and flows in a northeasterly direction for approximately eight miles until it discharges into the Palo Alto Flood Basin, and then drains into the Lower South San Francisco Bay. Major tributaries to Matadero Creek are Arastradero and Deer Creeks and Stanford Channel.

Through the foothills Matadero Creek traverses through low-density residential development in the town of Los Altos Hills. As it nears the valley floor it flows through the Stanford University Preserve and Campus, and then through residential, commercial, and industrial areas of Palo Alto. The portions of the watershed that fall in the northern part of City of Palo Alto are predominantly residential, commercial and public/institutional.

Five species of native fishes have been collected and/or observed from Matadero Creek during the last 20 years: California roach, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento sucker, threespine stickleback, and prickly sculpin.

Watershed Facts

  • Watershed area: 14 square miles
  • Number of tributary creeks: 3
  • Miles of natural creek bed: 18
  • Local towns and cities: Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills
  • Percent area by land use:
    • Residential 57.1%
    • Industrial/Commercial 5.8%
    • Forest 8.9%
    • Rangeland 8.2%
    • Other 20%
  • Percent Impervious Area: 60.3%
  • Beneficial Uses: Cold Freshwater Habitat (COLD), Warm Freshwater Habitat (WARM), Fish Migration (MIGR), Fish Spawning (SPWN), Wildlife Habitat (WILD), Water Contact Recreation (REC-1), Noncontact Water Recreation (REC-2)
  • Water Quality Impairments: Urban Pesticide Toxicity (Diazinon), Trash

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