More than 600 people were on hand today as the San Diego County Water Authority dedicated the new Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir. San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, County Supervisor Pam Slater and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce board Chairman Doug Sawyer were among the dignitaries who participated in the program highlighted by a plume of water projecting out of dam’s inlet/outlet tower into the reservoir. Mayor Murphy officially proclaimed today “Olivenhain Dam Day.”
“Today marks the first step in the Water Authority’s path to providing ample emergency storage for San Diego County,” said Bernie Rhinerson, Water Authority chairman. “This celebration is historic, not only because of the sheer size and strength of this dam, but it is the cornerstone of an overall goal to guarantee our water supply in the event of some catastrophic event such as an earthquake.”
At 318 feet high and more than 2,500 feet across, the Olivenhain Dam is the tallest roller-compacted concrete dam in North America. When filled, the 24,000 acre-foot reservoir will provide storage for 18,000 acre-feet of emergency water.
The Olivenhain Municipal Water District will use four thousand acre-feet of water for its customers. The remaining 2,000 acre-feet will be used for operational maintenance of the reservoir. An acre-foot of water is approximately 326,000 gallons, enough to serve two families of four for a year.
Today’s dedication marks the completion of phase one of the Water Authority’s Emergency Storage Project. The $827 million ESP is a 10-year plan to build storage and conveyance facilities to protect the region from an extended drought, catastrophic earthquake, and natural or man-made disasters that might interrupt the region’s imported supply of water.
Currently, imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is used to meet up to 90 percent of the region’s water demand. The pipelines that carry water to the region cross several major fault lines on the way to San Diego. An earthquake, drought or other disaster could interrupt San Diego County’s imported water supply for up to six months. Some communities could be without water within three to four days. The ESP will connect existing sources of water, assuring that water flows throughout the system even in the event a disaster disrupts the region’s imported water supply.
Phase two of the ESP is an 11-mile long tunnel, pipeline and pump station connecting the San Vicente Reservoir to the Water Authority’s second aqueduct at Mercy Road and Interstate 15. The San Vicente Pipeline will allow the Water Authority to move water anywhere in the region it is needed.
Phase three is the completion of a pipeline and pump stations connecting Lake Hodges and the Olivenhain Reservoir. This will allow the Water Authority to pump water into Lake Hodges and maintain the lake at a constant water level. The Lake Hodges connection is scheduled for 2008 and will provide an additional 20,000 acre-feet of water storage.
The final phase will raise the San Vicente Dam 54 feet to provide an additional 52,000 acre-feet of water storage. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the ESP will provide storage for 91,000 acre-feet of water.
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 $126 billion economy and the quality of life of 3 million residents.
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