Safety of Dams Program
Reclamation’s Safety of Dams Program
The Safety of Dams Program continues to be one of Reclamation’s highest priorities. The program helps ensure the safety of Reclamation dams to protect the downstream public.
The program was officially implemented in 1978 with passage of the Safety of Dams Act, which requires that dams be operated and maintained in a safe manner, ensured through inspections for safety deficiencies, analyses utilizing current technologies and designs, and corrective actions if needed based on current engineering practices.
The primary emphasis of the program is to continually perform site evaluations in order to identify any potential safety deficiencies in Reclamation’s dams. Dams must be examined by specialists every three years, with additional internal reviews performed annually.
If deficiencies are identified, Reclamation completes the related analyses in order to expedite corrective action. The selected course of action relies on assessments of risks with environmental and public input to the decision-making process.
Reclamation’s major efforts currently continue to be focused on modifications to Folsom Dam in the Mid-Pacific Region.
Aerial photographs show the auxiliary spillway constructed at Folsom Dam near Sacramento
An artist’s rendering of the completed project
Folsom Dam and Reservoir Improvements
In 2011, the Region and its partners announced the completion of the second phase of the Joint Federal Project and the start of the final three phases as Reclamation handed off the dam safety project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the final phases at Folsom Dam and Reservoir.
The Joint Federal Project (JFP) is the cornerstone for more than $1 billion in dam safety and flood damage reduction improvements to further protect more than a million residents in communities downstream from Folsom Dam and Reservoir, which is on the American River, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, California.
The final phases of the JFP involve construction of a concrete control structure with submerged gates, lining a 2,400-foot spillway chute, constructing a stilling basin, and building an 1,100-foot-long approach channel that will connect the auxiliary spillway to Folsom Reservoir.
The first two phases of the JFP were completed by Reclamation on schedule and about $70 million under budget. The work involved the excavation of about 2.5 million cubic yards of material from the spillway and the construction of haul roads, staging and batch plants, and other key infrastructure. The timely completion of Phase II was critical to ensuring a seamless transition to the Corps of Engineers.
During 2011, work on Folsom Dam and Reservoir included modifications to the main dam, Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam and Dikes 4-6. A $16.6 million project to address seismic deficiencies on the main dam, which was begun in 2010, was completed ahead of schedule in December 2011.
During construction, Reclamation has continued to operate Folsom Dam and Reservoir for water supply, power generation, and fish and wildlife mitigations. There have been only minor impacts on recreation at the popular facility.