Millions of people rely on water from the Colorado River, but there’s just not enough to quench everyone’s thirst. In other words, there’s a big gap between the amount of water in the river, and the amount that people are using.
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.
“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
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.
A judge’s order signed Tuesday ensures there will be at least some water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield in perpetuity. Unless, of course, it’s overturned.
Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp signed an order that requires 40% of the Kern River’s flow to remain in the river to keep fish populations healthy.
This order is the implementation of an injunction granted by Pulskamp October 30 mandating that some amount of water must flow through the river for fish populations.
California is drought-free for the first time in more than three years because of a remarkably wet, snowy winter and a rare tropical storm over the summer. The last remaining traces of drought disappeared in October, as autumn rainstorms grazed the northwestern corner of the state.
Groundwater is one of America’s most precious resources. The water that fills wells, stored naturally in underground aquifers, allowed vast cities to emerge and turned the nation into an agricultural powerhouse.
But the country’s stewardship of groundwater relies on a patchwork of state and local rules so lax and outdated that in many places, oversight is all but nonexistent, a New York Times investigation has found.
Less than a year after facing historic water shortages, California this week was declared drought-free thanks to a year of epic rains, with an El Niño forecast that could keep wet conditions going into 2024.
High in the mountains of Colorado, it’s a time of quiet.
The summer leaves have given way to bare branches, but the ski slopes haven’t yet filled with tourists—or snow. Soon, the flakes will begin to pile up, burying alpine valleys and recharging the Colorado River.
State lawmakers are advancing a bill that would prohibit the planting of new, nonfunctional turf.
If the bill passes next year, it would prohibit local and state governments and unit owners associations from allowing the planting of nonfunctional turf or nonnative plants or installing artificial turf in commercial, institutional or industrial properties beginning in 2025.
Leo Ortega started growing spiky blue agave plants on the arid hillsides around his Southern California home because his wife liked the way they looked.
A decade later, his property is now dotted with thousands of what he and others hope is a promising new crop for the state following years of punishing drought and a push to scale back on groundwater pumping.
It’s still more than seven weeks before the official start of winter (Dec. 21), but weekend storms in Colorado’s high country are reason enough to look in on snowpack levels that will eventually provide the water that flows to Lake Mead.
A month into the 2023 “water year,” snowpack levels are slightly above normal in the Upper Colorado River Basin: 114% as of Nov. 1, according to data on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s website. The water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 each year.