California’s B.F. Sisk Dam’s $1-billion expansion underway

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California Construction News staff writer

A $1 billion project to expand the B.F. Sisk Dam in California’s Central Valley was approved in October by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

Construction will raise the dam height by 10 feet and create an additional storage space in the San Luis Reservoir, the nation’s largest off-stream reservoir.

The B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project will create additional water supply for two million people, over one million acres of farmland and 135,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands and critical wildlife habitat, say officials.

I’m thrilled to be here today with our state and local partners on the banks of San Luis Reservoir to make this important project a reality,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Touton. “Thanks to major investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this project will allow us to secure the B.F. Sisk Dam and contribute to California’s water supply reliability through increased storage capacity at San Luis Reservoir.

B.F. Sisk Dam is a 382-foot high earthfill embankment located on the west side of the Central Valley, about 12 miles west of Los Banos. The dam is over three miles long and impounds San Luis Reservoir, which has a current total capacity of around two million acre-feet of water.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided over $100 million to the B.F. Sisk Dam for a project currently under construction that will increase the dam crest by 10 feet to improve seismic safety. Leveraging this existing project, Reclamation and the Authority are partnering to add an additional 10 feet to the dam through today’s announcement to allow for expansion of the reservoir’s storage capacity. The expanded space will store water that can be delivered to south-of-Delta water contractors and wildlife refuges.

“San Luis Reservoir has served as the hub of California’s water system south of the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay-Delta since its completion in 1967,” said San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board Chair Cannon Michael. “The ability to capture more water in the years it is available, particularly given California’s changing climate, is a critical component of a more secure future for the communities, farms and wildlife dependent on the Central Valley Project for their water supply. We value our partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation and look forward to completion of this vital water storage project.”

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