Dr. Malcolm Dunstan of MAD & Associates represents the team including the Water Authority at the award ceremony, MAD & Associates led the RCC mix design for the San Vicente Dam Raise project. Photo: International Commission on Large Dams

San Vicente Dam Raise Wins Global Award

The International Commission on Large Dams presented the San Diego County Water Authority this week with a prestigious international engineering award for its innovative construction technology used to raise the historic San Vicente Dam. The project helps ensure regional water security for generations to come.

Commission leaders made the presentation to the Water Authority at its annual conference in Guangzhou, China. It cited a special type of construction called roller compacted concrete, or RCC.  Applying this method to the San Vincente Dam project simplified construction, saving both time and money. The completed dam structure is capable of withstanding a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Dr. Malcolm Dunstan of MAD & Associates accepts the San Vicente Dam Raise award from International Commission on Large Dams officials. Photo: International Commission on Large Dams

Dr. Malcolm Dunstan of MAD & Associates accepts the San Vicente Dam Raise award from International Commission on Large Dams officials. Photo: International Commission on Large Dams

“This award is a reminder that the San Diego region has a long history of strategic investments to
protect our most important natural resource,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz. “The
San Vicente Dam Raise was a landmark project and one that inspires us as we seek solutions to
current and future challenges.”

The Water Authority sent a video message to the conference. View it below.

San Vicente Dam Project Increases Water Storage Capacity

Completed in 2014, the dam raise project increased the height of San Vicente Dam by 117 feet, the equivalent of adding a 12-story building atop the original structure. It more than doubled the capacity of the San Vicente Reservoir by adding 152,000-acre feet of water storage capacity, enough to serve more than 450,000 households for a year.

San Vicente Dam has been owned and operated by the City of San Diego since it was built in 1943. Capacity in the enlarged reservoir is shared by the city and the Water Authority, which also share the cost of operating the reservoir.

“Raising the San Vicente Dam was a massive feat of engineering and it’s recognized as the world’s tallest dam extension using roller compacted concrete,” said Water Authority Engineering Director Neena Kuzmich. “More importantly, it was the final major element of the Water Authority’s $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project, a system of reservoirs, pipelines and pumping stations designed to secure a six-month supply of drinking water for the San Diego region in case a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a prolonged drought interrupts imported water deliveries.”

State-Of-The-Art Method Shortens Construction Time

The San Vicente Dam Raise, completed in 2014, added more than 157,000 acre-feet of regional water storage capacity – the largest increase in San Diego County history. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The San Vicente Dam Raise, completed in 2014, added more than 157,000 acre-feet of regional water storage capacity – the largest increase in San Diego County history. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Work to prepare the original dam and foundation for the expansion began in 2009. Using RCC for the expansion was a key design element. Unlike conventional wet concrete, which is poured, RCC uses less cement and water to create a cookie dough or clay-like texture. Equally as strong as wet concrete, RCC is placed in layers one on top of the other and compacted. The placement process resembles road construction.

This state-of-the art application method significantly shortens construction time while meeting
all technical requirements. Expansion was completed in 2014. The San Vicente Reservoir is located just outside of Lakeside and now stands 337 feet tall.

How California’s Reservoirs Will Change After Atmospheric River Hits

California will escape much of the rainfall from an incoming atmospheric river, but the storm will still benefit some of the state’s reservoirs.

Breaking Boundaries: How Northern California Could Help Las Vegas During Drought

It might seem hard to imagine, but there’s a connection between water supplies in Northern California’s Sacramento region and distant cities such as Las Vegas. We may be separated by deserts and mountain ranges, but these very different places could actually share water. And with a little cooperation, all of us could survive the challenges of climate change, whether it’s a shrinking Colorado River or declining Sierra Nevada snowpack.

As Storms Arrive in California, Reservoirs Are in Good Shape. But the Water Forecast is Murky

As forecasts tease California with rainstorms this week, the state’s reservoirs are already flush with water.

It’s a big departure from a year ago: The state’s major reservoirs — which store water collected mostly from rivers in the northern portion of the state  — are in good shape, with levels at 124% of average. In late 2022, bathtub rings of dry earth lined lakes that had collectively dipped to about two-thirds of average — until heavy winter storms in January filled many of them almost to the brim.

Where’s Our Water? A Look at California’s Storage Problem

In 2014, California voters passed a proposition using $7.5 billion dollars in state funds to expand water storage capacity. Nearly 10 years later, people say not much has come from the vote. The main focus on their minds is the failure to expand Shasta Dam.

Kern County Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) has authored legislation that makes it easier for Shasta to receive federal funding.

Project Plans for the Sites Reservoir in Northern California Finalized

The future of California water storage reached a major milestone Thursday with the finalization for plans of the Sites Reservoir in Northern California. The reservoir would be the second largest off-stream reservoir in the nation and would increase Northern California’s water storage capacity by up to 15%, according to a press release from the Bureau of Reclamation. It will deliver water to beneficiaries primarily during dry periods or drought. The project area is about an hour north of Sacramento, situated between the Sacramento Valley to the east and the mountainous portion of the Coast Range on the west. It’s currently being used for livestock and cattle grazing.

First Major Water Storage Project in Over a Decade Moving Forward

The recent approval of the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project marks a significant improvement to California’s water storage capacity. This major project, greenlit as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, represents the first substantial water storage approval in California since 2011. The Department of the Interior, in collaboration with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, has granted the nod to this crucial initiative, signaling a new era for water storage in the state.

California’s Reservoirs Above Historic Averages as Fall Approaches

As the final days of summer near, California’s reservoirs are in a position they have not been in for some time, they still have a significant amount of water in them.

As of Thursday, all but Trinity Reservoir near Redding and Casitas near Ventura, are at or above their historic average levels, according to the California Department of Water data exchange.

Poway City Council Approves Plan to Issue $38M in Bonds for Water Storage Project

The Poway City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to issue up to $38 million in bonds for construction of two 4 million-gallon concrete water tanks at the Lester J. Berglund Water Treatment Plant.

Building the tanks to replace an outdated 10 million-gallon water storage reservoir near Lake Poway is the city’s largest capital improvement program since it incorporated in 1980, said Shadi Sami, principal civil engineer of Poway’s public works department.

The new water storage system is needed to provide safe and reliable water service now that the existing system has reached the end of its useful life, she told council members. The new concrete tanks are expected to be durable and long-lasting, she said.

(Editor’s note: The City of Poway is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego County region.) 

Earlier Snowpack Melt in the West Could Bring Summer Water Scarcity

Snow is melting earlier, and more rain is falling instead of snow in the mountain ranges of the Western U.S. and Canada, leading to a leaner snowpack that could impact agriculture, wildfire risk and municipal water supplies come summer, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.