The nation’s largest dam raise project came one step closer to getting underway today as the San Diego County Water Authority received six construction contract bids for the second phase of the San Vicente Dam Raise project.
The project, which will be built in six phases, will more than double the storage capacity of San Vicente Reservoir by increasing the height of San Vicente Dam by 117 feet. The Water Authority expects to award the contract in April and begin construction by early summer.
Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, Water Authority Board Chair, said the project will not only increase much needed local water storage capacity, but will also create 5,700 job-years of work.
“The additional water storage created by the San Vicente Dam Raise will help protect San Diego County’s 3 million residents and $171 billion economy from future supply shortages caused by drought, disasters or impacts of climate change,” Lewis said. “In addition, this project will create a significant number of jobs at a time when our region’s unemployment rate is at its highest level since the early 1990s.”
Lewis also said that the Water Authority is working with state and federal leaders to seek up to $130 million in federal stimulus funding.
The dam, which is owned and operated by the city of San Diego, currently stands 220 feet high. The $568 million dam raise project will enable San Vicente Reservoir to store an additional 152,000 acre-feet of water, bringing its total capacity to 242,000 acre-feet. This construction phase will include excavating the dam’s foundation and preparing the site for the dam raise. The next phase of the project, anticipated to begin in early 2010, will include placing roller-compacted concrete on the existing dam to raise it to its new height. The entire project, scheduled for completion in late 2012, will be the largest dam raise in the world using roller-compacted concrete. Refilling the reservoir after construction will take another two-to-five years, depending on supply availability.
Raising San Vicente Dam is a major component of phase four of the Water Authority’s $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project. When complete, the ESP will provide up to six months of locally stored water if a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, cuts off the region’s imported water supplies.
The ESP includes 20,000 acre-feet of water storage in Lake Hodges, 18,000 acre-feet in Olivenhain Reservoir, and 52,000 acre-feet in the expanded San Vicente Reservoir, providing a total of 90,000 acre-feet of water for use during emergencies. An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons – enough to meet the needs of two average families of four for a year.
In addition to the emergency storage, the enlarged San Vicente Reservoir will hold 100,000 acre-feet of carryover storage water. Carryover storage allows the Water Authority to store water during wet periods for use during subsequent dry years.
“The San Vicente Dam Raise is an excellent example of a ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure project that the federal stimulus package was designed to support,” Lewis said.
Information about the dam raise project is available at www.sdcwa.org/infra/esp-sanvicentedamraise.phtml.
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