Bureau of Reclamation

12/04/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/04/2019 16:29

Reclamation, DWR move forward with seismic upgrades at B.F. Sisk Dam

Media Contact: Jeff Hawk, 916-978-5100, [email protected]
Maggie Macias, 916-653-8743, [email protected]

For Release: December 04, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced today that they are moving forward on an estimated billion-dollar seismic upgrade project at B.F. Sisk Dam and San Luis Reservoir, located between Los Banos and Gilroy.

Based upon updated analysis of the risk and potential consequences of a large earthquake in this area, Reclamation and the State of California are undertaking a dam safety project that will add stability berms and other physical features to the existing 3.5-mile-long earthen embankment. This will reduce the risks associated with a large seismic event.

'This seismic upgrade project is part of our commitment to reduce the risk to downstream communities while protecting our valuable water supply,' said Ernest Conant, regional director for Reclamation's California-Great Basin. 'The strong partnership we share with the state allows us to leverage the expertise, resources and funding to ensure a safe and successful project.'

DWR operates the Reclamation-owned B.F. Sisk Dam and San Luis Reservoir and is the cost-share partner.

'We will continue to move forward with the important work to modernize infrastructure to protect California's water supply and enhance public safety,' said acting State Water Project Deputy Director Ted Craddock. 'This project represents a significant investment to address seismic risk to our water infrastructure.'

Reclamation has implemented additional risk reduction measures as it works to put a more permanent dam safety project in place. These measures include heightened earthquake monitoring, real-time seismic monitoring, dam safety tabletop exercises with local responders, increased seismic inspection criteria and an updated dam emergency management plan.

Reclamation and DWR plan to hold public meetings in the spring to further inform the public of the dam safety project.

Exploratory blasting to identify suitable material for construction of stability berms and other dam safety features will occur in the next few months.

Reclamation will inform the public of the blasting prior to commencing the work, which will take place within Reclamation's boundaries. The public may hear the blasting when it occurs but it is not anticipated to impact the public or the environment. The public will be notified of any impact to recreation.

Located in Merced County, the off-stream San Luis Reservoir provides more than 2 million acre-feet of combined supplemental storage capacity for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The reservoir provides many benefits to the nation, including water for irrigation, municipal and industrial use, recreation and hydroelectric power.

Construction on the multi-year project is slated to begin in summer of 2021.

The Record of Decision was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act after completing thorough environmental review and public outreach and is available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=34281.

Contact Jamie LeFevre at Reclamation for a hardcopy of the ROD or the EIS/EIR at 916-978-5035 (TTY 800-877-8339) or email [email protected].

Hardcopies of the Notice of Determination and the EIS/EIR are available by contacting Shelly Amrhein of DWR at 916-653-6973 or email [email protected].

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.