These Dams Face Restrictions Because of Safety Risks

Dam disasters are rare. But when they occur, the consequences can be devastating. Who could forget the partial failure of the Oroville Dam in 2017? The incident led to thousands of evacuations and caused over $1 billion in damage. 

California may be closer to another major spill than you think. Forty-two dams are at such high risk that the state has placed limits on the amount of water they can store. The limits amount to a loss of 330,000 acre-feet of storage — enough water to supply 3.6 million people for a year.

An interactive map published by CalMatters shows exactly where these dams are located, which ones pose the greatest risk, and which ones have lost the most storage capacity as a result. Dams that have lost 75-100% of their storage because of safety hazards include:

  • Bass Lake (Siskiyou)
  • Swanzy Lake (Solano)
  • Selvage #2 (Santa Clara)
  • North Fork (Santa Clara)
  • #3 Forebay (Madera)
  • Tinemaha (Inyo)
  • Haiwee (Inyo)
  • Sawpit Debris Basin (Los Angeles)
  • Lee Lake (Riverside)
  • Lake Hodges (San Diego)

Facing a massive budget deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting the state’s dam repair grant program by half. The Legislature is at odds with him on this point.

“This investment is the trifecta: It gives you public safety, because you don’t want dams breaking. It gives you climate resilience, because we could have flooding,” and “it will impact our water supply,” said Assemblymember Diane Papan (D-San Mateo).

How is your nearest dam doing? Click here to see the map.