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San Vicente Dam Raise Project—the tallest dam raise in the U.S. and the tallest roller compacted concrete dam raise in the entire world. That is quite an accompliSan Diego County Water Authority makes history in doubling the storage capacity of the San Vicente Dam Reservoirshment for San Diego.

San Vicente Dam Raise Project—the tallest dam raise in the U.S. and the tallest roller compacted concrete dam raise in the entire world. That is quite an accompliSan Diego County Water Authority makes history in doubling the storage capacity of the San Vicente Dam Reservoirshment for San Diego.

Raising the dam by 117 feet was a dream come true, nearly doubling the storage capacity of the reservoir for emergency situations such as earthquake, terrorist threat and other disasters.

On July 16 the water agencies came together to celebrate the final accomplishment with the dedication of the recently finished dam raise. They proudly showed off pride and joy to county dignitaries, state representatives and Lakesiders.

Notables such as San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former mayor Jerry Sanders, Congressman Joel Anderson, Assemblyman Randy Jones, Supervisor Dianne Jacob and many water agency representatives were on hand to speak about the dedication and hard work that the various agencies had worked through for the last 16 years.

County Water Authority board chairman, Thomas Wornham said, “When San Diego wants to build big they can do it.”

Faulconer said that they were guarding the tax dollars.

“This was voted on by residents, a team effort from the beginning,” he said.

CEO of the County Water Authority Maureen Stapleton said that water independence with six months of emergency water storage is imperative to the survival of San Diego and they did not want to be dependent on getting imported water. When the reservoir fills, the water can be stored and delivered to local treatment plants. 

The cost of the dam raise was $416 million but the whole project which included building Olivenhain Dam in North County, drilling large tunnels 11 miles through rocks, boulders and mountains, a surge tank, pump station and improving other equipment cost $838 million, it was a large leap forward by the water authority members and staff.

After the dignitaries spoke of the working relationship the agencies had, the guests were invited to an overlook to see for themselves the dam and lake and the work that had been done. “Oohs and ahs” were heard when the gush of whitewater came cascading down the inversion steps from the fill chute to start the long process of filling the lake with water from Twin Oaks Reservoir. 

Now the long wait begins, for Mother Nature to bring rain to give San Vicente Lake a helping hand with filling water to the newfound storage capacity.   Boaters, skiers and fishermen will be eagerly waiting for the new marina to be built and the 900 foot long boat ramp to be almost covered with water, for that is when the recreation on the lake can begin. Fishermen can imagine the size the fish have grown since the lake was closed four years ago.

Up in the sky, along came a trio of restored vintage airplanes from Gillespie Field, doing a fly-by, showing off their flying talent.  It seemed like a grand finale, but the County Water Authority had another surprise up its sleeves, wowing the guests with a bus tour of the lower water plumping plant and an actual walking tour on the new dam.

It was a grand and historical day in Lakeside, thanks to all the agencies working together on this visionary project.

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