Construction set to begin on Lake Wohlford dam, San Diego

Construction set to begin on Lake Wohlford dam, San Diego

Construction set to begin on Lake Wohlford dam, San Diego

Construction set to begin on Lake Wohlford dam, San Diego

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Construction is set to begin soon on the replacement of the dam on Lake Wohlford in Escondido, San Diego. The project will start in 2022 according to officials and will cost approximately US$72 million. The dam on the lake was constructed in 1895 and its replacement took nearly a decade of planning, design work, and environmental review. The project is ready to move forward once funding is secured said the deputy city manager and Escondido’s utility director, Christopher McKinney. About 30 years after the original dam’s construction, the city in 1924 enlarged and raised the dam to increase its storage capacity to about a surface area of 225 acres, and 6,500 acre-feet.

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A state safety inspection conducted in 2007, however, found that the dam addition could suffer a catastrophic failure in an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 or greater, and as a safety precaution, the city lowered the water level to the height of the original dam. This reduced its storage capacity by more than half, where it has stood for the past 14 years. The city’s current plan is to build a new dam about 300 yards downstream or west of the existing Lake Wohlford dam. It will be constructed by rolling out layers of concrete, starting at the bottom and moving up, and once completed, the top section of the old dam will be removed and a notch cut in the old dam to allow water to flow to the new structure.

One major hurdle that has faced city officials is the escalating cost of the project with the initial estimate for the project in 2012 was US$30 million for construction a figure that has more than doubled to $72 million partly due to the required realignment of a section of Oakvale Road. The city is working to finalize a federal grant and a low-interest federal loan as well as three outside sources of funding for the dam replacement to cover most of the remaining costs of the project.

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