News Release Archive

Society of Civil Engineers Honors Reclamation with the 2014 Outstanding Project Award

Media Contact: Erin Curtis, 916-978-5100,

For Release: March 18, 2015

image of Jay Higgins, Welsh and LaFond.
L-R: LaFond, Welsh & Higgins.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Bureau of Reclamation was honored at the 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers Region 9 (California) Infrastructure Symposium and Awards Dinner on March 6, 2015. The Mid-Pacific Region was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Project Award for the development of the Red Bluff Pumping Plant and Fish Screen Project. Presented at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, the award was accepted by, Richard Welsh, Mid-Pacific Regional Construction Engineer, and Richard LaFond, Division Manager for Civil Engineering Services at Reclamation's Technical Service Center in Denver.

Completing the project ends nearly 40 years of effort by many groups, agencies and individuals to find a balanced solution that improves fish passage while sustaining the reliability of agricultural water deliveries in Tehama, Colusa, Glen and Yolo counties.

As the project manager and funding agency, Reclamation contracted with Balfour Beatty, Inc. who completed the pumping plant and fish screen on Sept. 26, 2012.The Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, Reclamation?s partner and the project beneficiary, took over operations and maintenance. Initially the project was estimated at $230 million, but refinements to the scope and other efficiencies reduced the total cost to under $180 million. The project received $113.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $53.3 million from other federal sources and $12 million from the State of California.

The project replaced the existing Red Bluff Diversion Dam on the Sacramento River. When the 11 dam gates were lowered, Lake Red Bluff was formed and provided for diversion of irrigation water from the river into the Tehama-Colusa and Corning canals. The gates not only controlled river flow but also created a barrier to adult fish migrating both upstream and downstream. Although the dam was initially operated to provide for continuous diversion, the gates-in diversion period had been incrementally reduced over the years to less than four months in an effort to improve fish passage of several salmon species and green sturgeon, listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The completed construction of the screened pumping plant allows the diversion dam gates to be placed permanently in the open position to allow unimpeded fish migration while ensuring continued water deliveries to 150,000 acres of high-value cropland. Features of the project include a fish screen, intake channel, a pumping plant with a capacity of 2,500 cubic feet per second, an access bridge and a pipeline to convey water from the pumping plant into the Tehama-Colusa and Corning canals.

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