The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) advises being cautious during visits to Castaic Lake starting this May during construction on the Castaic Dam in Santa Clarita, which is expected to include a series of modernizations to prepare for potential major earthquakes.
Intending to reduce risks from potential major earthquakes, the DWR plans to oversee Castaic Dam construction in Santa Clarita, but the department also warns of potential water hazards during the process.
During the drawdown that is scheduled to begin in early May, all visitors are advised to be aware of fluctuating water levels and to stay away from water hazards, according to the DWR.
“The reservoir will reach a low elevation of 1,380 feet above mean sea level by fall 2021. The water level will be lowered by over 100 feet during this period,” according to a statement from the DWR. “By spring 2022, Castaic Lake will return to normal operations with water levels based on available conditions at that time.”
The projects include the installation of new equipment to monitor the dam’s stability and construction to strengthen the dam’s intake tower access bridge, according to the DWR.
“These projects are important to helping us ensure Castaic Dam continues to operate safely and provides reliable and affordable water supply,” said DWR Deputy Director Ted Craddock, who oversees the State Water Project. “In addition to providing water supply for Southern California, Castaic Lake offers many recreational opportunities for surrounding communities.”
Monitoring equipment known as piezometers will be installed in wells adjacent to the dam’s east side to measure groundwater trends, tracking the dam’s stability over time. A total of nine piezometers are scheduled to be installed to improve data collection for reliable and accurate data, according to the DWR.
The construction, during the piezometer installation, is expected to involve drill rigs and heavy machinery. Increased noise and site activity is likely throughout the project until it is expected to wrap up in June.
Once the installation is completed, construction work on the lower access bridge is scheduled to occur until spring 2022. The bridge work is projected to include strengthening the tower bridge piers, which requires the temporary drawdown of Castaic Lake to access the piers, according to the DWR.
The Castaic Modernization Program, generated by the DWR, began in 2018 to reduce seismic risk to the intake tower and access bridge, evaluation of the spillway to identify and implement necessary modifications, and earthquake monitoring capabilities on various dam components.
For more information about the program, visit the DWR website.
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