News Release

San Vicente Dam Reaches New Full Height of 337 Feet

Region’s largest water storage project on track for completion in 2013
October 17, 2012

The San Diego County Water Authority's San Vicente Dam Raise project has reached another construction milestone -- the dam in Lakeside has topped out at its new full height of 337 feet.  

This vital improvement to the region's water storage and distribution system -- the largest water storage project in San Diego County's history -- is on track for completion in 2013.  The new dam is 117 feet higher than the old one, the tallest dam raise in the United States.  Once work is finished on the dam, remaining construction will include the San Vicente Marina Facilities, Bypass Pipeline, and site restoration projects.

“The new dam is an impressive sight, and it will serve the region for generations,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chairman of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors, who visited the worksite on Tuesday. “It’s exactly the kind of strategic investment that we need to  protect our region and its $186 billion economy from the devastating impact of water shortages caused by drought, regulatory cutbacks or a catastrophe that damages our water lifelines to the north.”

The $450 million project will add 152,000 acre-feet of water storage capacity to the existing reservoir, enough to serve more than 300,000 homes for a year. Filling the reservoir will take two to five more years.

The new storage volume will be greater than any current reservoir in the county.  The stored water will be used to help meet regional water needs during dry years or emergencies, such as disruptions caused by a major earthquake. The dam and reservoir are owned by the city of San Diego. Water in the enlarged reservoir will be shared by the city (90,000 acre-feet) and the Water Authority (152,000 acre-feet).

The San Vicente Dam Raise is one of the final components of the Water Authority’s $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project, a system of water conveyance and storage facilities designed to ensure San Diego County will have up to a six-month supply of locally stored water and can move that water around the region.

San Vicente Reservoir is closed to recreation during construction. Once the lake is refilled, an expanded marina will open for boating and fishing.  

San Vicente Dam Raise Facts

  • The initial 220-foot-high concrete dam, owned by the city of San Diego, was built in 1943. It measures 950 feet long and 150 feet wide at the base
  • The raised dam is 337 feet high. Work was done using roller-compacted concrete, a mix with a consistency similar to cookie dough. This method takes less time and water than conventional concrete but is just as strong.
  • Construction doubled the volume of the dam itself to about 1.2 million cubic yards of concrete.
  • The raised dam is 1,440 feet long and 225 feet wide at the base. A new 45-foot high saddle dam is in the final stages of construction in a low point in the hills to contain the higher reservoir levels.

More information about the San Vicente Dam Raise is available at San Vicente Dam Raise. For details about the Emergency Storage Project, visit Emergency Storage Project.

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