Replacement of Lake Wohlford Dam is ‘Shovel Ready’

The city of Escondido is moving forward with plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam, a structure built of earth and rock that has stood at its present location since 1895.

Lake Wohlford is about 5 miles northeast of downtown Escondido, just beyond city limits in the unincorporated area of San Diego County, and the dam is owned by the city. The lake has long served the city both as a recreational asset for boaters and fishing enthusiasts, and as an emergency storage reservoir to supply drinking water in case of a drought.

Escondido Discusses Rehabilitating Lake Wohlford Dam

The Escondido City Council met on June 3 to discuss options for rehabilitating Lake Wohlford Dam, instead of building a replacement dam, and to award contracts for the Lindley Reservoir Replacement Project.

The council heard a report on the possibility of rehabilitating the Lake Wohlford Dam, which was first constructed in 1895 as part of Escondido’s local water system, to address seismic deficiencies rather than replacing the dam altogether.

According to the report, replacing the dam would cost more than $46.4 million, an amount much greater than the 2012 preliminary cost estimate of $30 million. Furthermore, it would cost an estimated $3.5 million to offset known negative impacts to the environment.

Maybe the old Lake Wohlford Dam Isn’t so bad, After All?

Plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam are now on hold as Escondido investigates other, less expensive options because the projected cost of the project has escalated to more than $50 million.

It was nearly 13 years ago when state inspectors determined that the top quarter of the dam might liquefy in the event of a major earthquake and potentially flood eastern Escondido.

Right away, Escondido utility workers lowered the water level of the lake so that only the bottom three-quarters of the dam would be needed to hold back water. The amount of water stored in the lake was reduced by about half.