Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir recipient of two engineering awards

April 16, 2005

Assignment Editors and Reporters: Editors & Reporters Note: For a virtual tour of the dam project please click here: Olivenhain…

Assignment Editors and Reporters:

Editors & Reporters Note: For a virtual tour of the dam project please click here: Olivenhain Dam Tour


Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, a joint project of the San Diego County Water Authority and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District received two engineering awards in April. The American Society of Civil Engineers honored the project as one of four international merit award recipients in the 2005 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement awards program. The project also received an honor award for design in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers’ 2005 Excellence in Environmental Engineering awards program.

“We are honored to have this unique dam project selected for these two prestigious awards,” said John Economides, Water Authority director of engineering. “The Olivenhain Dam is a critical component of the Water Authority’s Emergency Storage Project that will provide water to our region during times of supply interruption.”

“Olivenhain Water District has achieved aqueduct independence from an extended imported water outage through regional cooperation; thereby saving our customers substantial money and minimizing environmental impacts,” according to David McCollom General Manager of Olivenhain.

The ASCE awards program honors projects that best illustrate superior civil engineering skills and represent a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. The AAEE awards program recognizes the best in environmental engineering practice and contribution to improved quality of life and economic efficiency.

Representatives from the Water Authority and the Olivenhain MWD accepted the award at the ASCE’s Outstanding Projects and Leaders awards gala in Vienna, Virginia, April 13. ASCE has recognized the Olivenhain Dam project at both the local and state level as its outstanding engineering project of the year. The representatives accepted the AAEE award at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, April 14.

The dam and reservoir form the cornerstone of the Water Authority’s Emergency Storage Project. The ESP will eventually provide over 90,000 acre-feet of water storage for use if an earthquake severs any one of the region’s five pipelines that move imported water from Riverside County to San Diego County.

The dam was designed and constructed to withstand a major earthquake and remain completely functional. It is the largest roller-compacted concrete dam in the United States and the first in California. The reservoir holds 24,000 acre-feet of water, with 18,000 acre feet stored for emergency purposes. The Olivenhain Municipal Water District, a partner in the project, will use the remaining water for daily use by its customers.

The dam is nearly 320 feet tall and 2,570 feet long. Roller-compacted concrete was placed at world record rates, as much as 16,000 cubic yards per day, in round-the-clock construction. The dam contains more than 1.4 million cubic yards of roller-compacted concrete.

The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The Water Authority works through its 23 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to support the region’s $142 billion economy and the quality of life of 3 million residents.

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  • 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.

    Media Contact Information

    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135

    Email: GSevilla@sdcwa.org