Connecting Waterpeople

USBR provides $100 million for the modification of B.F. Sisk Dam in California

  • USBR provides $100 million for the modification of B.F. Sisk Dam in California
    BF Sisk Dam. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation
  • California’s B.F. Sisk Dam is the nation’s largest offstream reservoir.

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Bureau of Reclamation
Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits.
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The Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Reclamation is providing project-specific funding of $100 million for the modification of B.F. Sisk Dam in California. The funding, authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was highlighted in an addendum to the Bureau’s initial spend plan for fiscal year 2022 funding allocations.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $500 million to Reclamation over the next five years to support critical dam safety projects, streamline construction management, maintain the operational capacity of Reclamation’s dams and minimize risk to the downstream public. These investments underscore President Biden’s commitment to developing longer-term measures to respond to climate change, mitigate drought and build climate resiliency.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $500 million to Reclamation over the next five years to support critical dam safety projects

“Investing in and enhancing dam safety is central to the Biden-Harris administration's all-of-government approach to addressing drought and confronting climate change impacts on communities and habitats,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Crucial funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will further advance planned dam safety work at B.F. Sisk to reduce risk while preserving all the benefits that the dam and San Luis Reservoir currently provide. This is the first of many projects that will benefit from these historic infrastructure investments.”

B.F. Sisk Dam, completed in 1967, impounds San Luis Reservoir, the nation’s largest offstream reservoir, and provides supplemental irrigation water storage and municipal and industrial for the Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project. In December 2019, Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a partnership to move forward on a $1.1 billion seismic upgrade with the signing of a Record of Decision and Notice of Determination.

The dam safety project, Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams Act, will add stability berms and other dam safety features to the existing 3.5-mile-long earthen dam. Increasing the dam height will reduce downstream public safety concerns by reducing the likelihood of overtopping if slumping were to occur during a seismic event. Exploratory blasting at B.F. Sisk occurred during 2020 in preparation for construction on the multi-year project to begin summer 2022.

“The Biden-Harris administration is focused on developing long-term resilience to drought and climate change,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “This investment in B.F. Sisk Dam, located south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, will build water supply security for California communities, farmers and ranchers and wildlife refuges, and help the system better adapt to a changing climate.”

Construction is divided into three phases with a new contract for each phase. The award of the Phase I contract award is scheduled for FY 2022, using both Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Safety of Dams funding, as well as that provided in Reclamation’s annual appropriations.

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