The Solano Project is mostly in Solano County, California, bordering the northeast extremity of San Francisco Bay. Lake Berryessa, the reservoir area behind Monticello Dam is in Napa County. Monticello Dam is the main project feature. Other important features are Putah Diversion Dam, Putah South Canal with a small terminal reservoir, and the necessary wasteways, laterals and drainage works.
The project was designed to irrigate approximately 96,000 acres of land. In 1992 the total irrigated area was 71,445 acres. The project also furnishes municipal and industrial water to the principal cities of Solano County. Putah Creek is the source of water for the Solano Project.
The drainage basin, comprising 576 square miles above Monticello Dam, lies to the Northwest of Solano County on the eastern slope of the Coast Range in Napa and Lake counties. In late summer the stream has little or no flow; in winter the runoff occurs almost immediately after precipitation due to the absence of snow- pack and appreciable ground-water storage in the upper watershed.
After gold was discovered in California, people poured through Solano County as it was on a direct route between San Francisco Bay and the goldfields. Communities grew rapidly, and agriculture expanded.
An Army post established at Benicia in 1849 was later turned into a major arsenal. In 1856, the U.S. Navy completed a shipbuilding and ship repair base at Mare Island opposite the city of Vallejo.
Following the severe drought in the 1860s, large-scale grain raising began, followed by a more diversified agriculture based on irrigation and dryland crops. Sheep and cattle raising continued to hold an important place in the economy of the area. Specialty crops came into prominence as demand for agricultural products in the San Francisco Bay area increased and water well capability was developed. With the increased irrigation and the municipal and industrial development of the county, the demand for water resulted in the utilization of all of the more readily available sources of supply.
Construction of the project began in 1953. Monticello Dam and Putah Diversion Dam were completed in 1957 and Putah South Canal early in 1959.
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The Solano Project was authorized by the Secretary of the Interior Nov. 11, 1948, under the terms of the Reclamation Project Act of 1939. Most of the project is located in Solano County, California, northeast of the San Francisco Bay; however, Lake Berryessa, the reservoir behind Monticello Dam, is located in Napa County and the dam itself is located in Yolo County. Designed to irrigate approximately 96,000 acres of land, the project also furnishes municipal and industrial (M&I) water to cities in Solano County.
Its principal features include:
- Monticello Dam
- Lake Berryessa
- Putah Diversion Dam
- Putah South Canal
- Terminal Dam and Reservoir
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