American Society of Civil Engineers President Honors Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project

July 11, 2017

Today the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, along with dozens of local water leaders and stakeholders, celebrated the San Diego County Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project winning ASCE’s top international engineering award with a plaque presentation ceremony at Olivenhain Dam near Escondido.

ASCE President Norma Jean Mattei presented the plaque for winning ASCE’s 2017 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award to the Water Authority’s leadership, including Board Chair Mark Muir and General Manager Maureen Stapleton. Mattei saluted the Water Authority and its member agencies for having the foresight and dedication to build the Emergency and Carryover Storage Project, a $1.5 billion system of dams, reservoirs, pump stations, pipelines and tunnels, to help protect the region’s 3.3 million people and $222 billion economy from extended dry periods or emergencies that could disrupt imported water deliveries.

“The Water Authority planned for the future, making an investment that ensures the public’s health, safety, and welfare in case of disaster through this project,” Mattei said. “We stand here today because the San Diego County Water Authority, and all 24 member agencies that are part of it, were willing to make the investment because they saw the value and had the vision to put plans in motion.”

Begun in 1992, the project is designed to ensure up to six months of local water supplies are available and can be moved around the region after an emergency, such as an earthquake that damages the large-scale pipelines delivering imported water into the region. The project also added capacity for more than 105,000 acre-feet of local “carryover” storage – water stored during wet years to help meet demands in dry years. Overall, it added more than 200,000 acre-feet of locally available water storage capacity. Major construction of the projects was completed in 2014. (Note: An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, enough to supply two single-family households of four for a year.)

“The Emergency & Carryover Storage Project is a testament to the vision and drive of the Water Authority’s Board, management, and staff to ensure water supply reliability for our region,” Muir said. “We are proud to receive this distinguished recognition, and to have ASCE’s president personally present this plaque further honors the hard work put in by everyone at the Water Authority and its project partners to make this project a success.”

Major elements of the Emergency & Carryover Storage Project include:

  • Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, Pipeline and Pump Station. The project included construction of a 318-foot-tall dam that added 24,000 acre-feet of emergency water storage. (Completed in 2003) The ASCE plaque will be permanently affixed at a site on the top of the dam.
  • Lake Hodges Pipeline and Pump Station. The pipeline connected Olivenhain Reservoir to Lake Hodges, providing access to 20,000 acre-feet of emergency water in Lake Hodges. The pump station generates power and moves water between the reservoirs. (Pipeline completed in 2007; pump station completed and operational in 2012)
  • San Vicente Pipeline and Pump Station. The 11-mile, 12-foot-diameter tunnel and 8.5-foot-diameter pipeline connected San Vicente Reservoir to the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, and the pump station moves the water from the reservoir to the aqueduct. (Pump station completed in 2010; pipeline completed in 2011)
  • San Vicente Dam Raise. This project, the tallest dam raise in the nation, raised the dam by 117 feet, creating 52,100 acre-feet of emergency water storage capacity and approximately 105,600 acre-feet of carryover storage capacity. (Completed in 2014)

The Water Authority already has used the additional storage capacity to enhance the reliability of the region’s water supply, storing more than 100,000 acre-feet of water conserved during the recent drought in San Vicente Reservoir. (The reservoir is owned and managed by the City of San Diego.) These supplies, along with supplies from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, helped the region pass the state’s stringent water supply “stress test” in 2016, eliminating emergency state-mandated water-use reductions for the region.

The Water Authority project earned ASCE’s top annual engineering award this spring. Other finalists included: One World Trade Center in New York City; Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 2 in Mumbai, India; Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven, Conn.; and the Union Station to Oak Cliff Dallas Streetcar Project in Dallas, Texas.

For more information on the ASCE award, go to More information on the Emergency & Carryover Storage Project is at

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

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