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CA Dam to Receive Safety Upgrades

Thursday, January 30, 2020

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In an effort to increase flood protection, crews began work last week on what will be a five-year endeavor to raise the Folsom Dam and surrounding earth wing dams and dikes by 3.5 feet in Sacramento, California.

The endeavor is slated to help protect 440,000 downstream residents living in metropolitan Sacramento—considered to be one of the highest urban flood-risk areas in the country.

Folsom Dam

Built in 1955 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Folsom Dam is a 340-foot-high concrete center section flanked by long earthen wing dams extending to high ground, totaling roughly 9 miles in length. The flood controlling infrastructure is currently operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. In total, the dam was built to contain over a million acre-feet of water in the lake.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to increase flood protection, last week crews began work on what will be a five-year endeavor to raise the Folsom Dam and surrounding earth wing dams and dikes by 3.5 feet in Sacramento, California.

Currently, the structure is used to store water for irrigation and domestic use and for electrical power generation at the Folsom Powerplant located at the bottom of the structure. According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the powerplant contains three generators that can produce 198,207 kilowatts of power.

The Folsom Dam also preserves the American river fishery, contributes to downstream control of saltwater intrusion in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and other water-related recreation activities.

Over time, the Folsom Dam has been able to save the city billions in potential flood damages. Most notably in 1964, 1986 and 1997 when major storms caused Folsom Lake to reach record highs, ensuing dam operators to discharge high water flows into the river, as levees were threatened to burst.

Since 1986, more than $2.2 billion has been spent on the infrastructure as to improve flood safety to what is considered 240-year flood incident level by rehabilitating the dam and levees. Most notably in 2017, when crews rebuilt the facility’s emergency spillway, lowering the top roughly 50 feet.

What’s Happening Now

Odin Construction (Rocklin, California) has officially begun to work on the $400 million Folsom Dam safety improvements project. Starting with an earthen dam located on the south side of Folsom Lake, crews are grading the structure where rock, gravel, dirt and pavement will be packed on top of the existing earth structures.

Once this portion of the work is completed, both the left- and right-wing earthen dams, all eight dikes, along with the Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam, will have been raised from 340 feet to 344 feet.

While the concrete central portion of the dam is already taller than the adjacent dikes, the infrastructure is still expected to receive new seals along the top row of outlet gates near its brim.

After work has commenced, the reservoir is expected to hold an additional 43,000-acre-feet of water—or increase its capacity by 4%.

“The Sacramento region faces some of the most unique and severe flood challenges in the country,” wrote Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento in a statement. “It has taken years of innovation, collaboration, and hard work to develop a forward-looking approach that has resulted in one of the most advanced flood protection systems in the country.

“The Folsom Dam Raise project advances this work to provide even more robust protection for decades into the future. I ... will continue to work to make sure our region gets the support and flood protection infrastructure it needs.”

The project is expected to be complete by 2025.


Tagged categories: Construction; Flood Barrier; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Locks and dams; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Safety; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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