Reclamation Initiating Corrective Action Study For Los Banos Detention Dam

Media Contact: Jeffrey McCracken, 916-978-5100

For Release: November 24, 2003

Reclamation is initiating a Corrective Action Study for Los Banos Detention Dam, based on the results of a Comprehensive Facility Review (CFR) finalized in August 2003.

The CFR report said that the dam, located about 7 miles southwest of the City of Los Banos, in Merced County, California, might be vulnerable to overtopping during a major flood. Significant overtopping could lead to dam failure, putting the large population living downstream in the City of Los Banos at risk. Preliminary studies have estimated the recurrence of such an event to be about once in 1,000 years. However, planned hydrologic studies could determine that an overtopping event is much more remote.

According to Reclamation guidelines, there is justification to take action to reduce risk. An Emergency Management exercise with appropriate agencies was conducted on November 18, 2003 to prepare for possible contingencies at the dam. As an additional measure of preparedness, the dam, reservoir, and rainfall forecasts are monitored closely during the rainy season. Los Banos Detention Dam provides flood control protection for the San Luis Canal (California Aqueduct), the City of Los Banos, and adjacent farmlands. The reservoir is also used for recreation managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The dam is part of the Central Valley Project, and is jointly owned and operated with the California Department of Water Resources as part of the California State Water Project.

Reclamation will provide updates to the state of California, City of Los Banos, and other appropriate agencies as the study progresses. For more information, please call Douglas McElhinney at Reclamation's Division of Design and Construction at 916-978-5225, TDD 916-978-5608, or by e-mail at

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.