B.F. Sisk Dam safety modification design package completed remotely

Written by: Peter Soeth

BF Sisk Dam and pumping plant near Los Banos, California.
BF Sisk Dam and pumping plant near Los Banos, California.
Bureau of Reclamation employees from its Technical Service Center were able to use visual and digital technology as they worked remotely to complete and transmit the 60% design specifications and drawings for the B. F. Sisk dam safety modification. This modification, estimated to cost $1.1 billion, is the largest in the history of Reclamation's Dam Safety Program.

The multi-disciplinary team of more than 20 included geotechnical engineers, specification writers, cost estimators, construction support, civil engineers, and computer-aided drafting operators. The project has also required close collaboration with staff from Reclamation’s California Great Basin Regional Office, consultants, and outside agencies. Together, they used ingenuity and creativity to develop new workflows, file structures, and communication methods to maintain efficiency and increase effectiveness during the transition to full-time telework.

B.F. Sisk Dam is a 380-foot-high zoned compacted earthfill embankment dam that forms San Luis Reservoir. It is located in Merced County, 12 miles west of Los Banos, California. The off-stream San Luis Reservoir provides more than two million acre-feet of combined storage capacity for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The reservoir provides many benefits to the nation, including water for irrigation, municipal and industrial use, recreation and hydroelectric power.

Based on updated analysis of the risk and potential consequences of a large earthquake in this area, Reclamation and the State of California are undertaking this dam safety project that will add stability berms and other physical features to the existing 3.5-mile-long earthen embankment.

Learn more about the project on Reclamation’s website.

Some of the team members on a web call.

Clockwise from top left, Ted Howard, Randy Reed, Dave Weidinger, and Bryce Kerscher.

Published on May 06, 2020