Eagle Canyon Dam Completion Celebrated with Tours and Ceremony

By on March 12, 2016

A special tour and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Eagle Canyon Dam and newly completed storm drain system—Line 43/43A—was held Thursday, March 10. Riverside County Supervisor John J. Benoit, Cathedral City Mayor Stanley E. Henry, Cathedral City Councilmember John Aguillar, General Manager-Chief Engineer of the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Dusty Williams, and other dignitaries were in attendance for the event.

Prior to construction of the dam desert thunderstorms over the Eagle Canyon foothills produced flash floods that sent water, sediment and debris down the canyon and into the streets. Businesses on East Palm Canyon Drive experienced heavy flooding in July 2008 and August 2012.

“We are fortunate to have the Eagle Canyon Dam in place to prevent the kind of damage we’ve had in the past with flooded businesses, mud-blocked streets, and road closures during heavy downpours,” said Supervisor Benoit.

The Eagle Canyon Dam and Debris Basin is designed to hold 185 acre-feet of water and 14 acre feet of debris. The dam provides protection from a 100-year flood event in which the peak inflow rate of water is 720,000 gallons per minute, equivalent to filling 50 swimming pools per minute.

“It was a process that took decades to obtain the local funds and the needed approvals,” said Bob Cullen, chief of design and construction at Riverside County Flood Control & Water Conservation District. “It’s not often that a project of this magnitude is built in our county.”

Construction of the $10.6 million dam began in May 2013. The dam became functional in June 2014 and was completed in September 2015. The project also included $1.2 million in environmental clean-up, funded by the cities of Palm Springs and Cathedral City at this long blighted location.

The newly completed Line 43/43A is the outlet for Eagle Canyon Dam. The project installed approximately 3,900 feet of underground storm drain. The system conveys flows from the dam underneath East Palm Canyon Drive and into the flood district’s North Cathedral Canyon Channel, keeping water from flowing into the street and impacting businesses and residents.

Line 43, a $5 million project, began construction in April 2015 and was completed in February.

The primary need for the dam stems from “flooding on Highway 111 and the impact on residents and businesses downstream,” said Jason Uhley, assistant chief engineering at Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The concept for the dam dates back as far as the 1982 Palm Springs Master Drainage Plan according to Uhley.

The contractor for the dam was Hal Hayes

Construction of Riverside; Granite Construction Company, with offices in Indio, served as the contractor for the outlet construction.

Eagle Canyon Dam Completion

Chief Engineer Williams of the Riverside County Flood served as master of ceremonies for the event and Supervisor Benoit cut the ribbon.  Both Benoit and Williams spoke during the festivities as did Mayor Henry of Cathedral City and Bob Cullen, chief of design and construction at Riverside County Flood Control District. Approximately 60 people attended Thursday’s event.

With the completion of both projects, the district can revise the FEMA flood insurance rate maps in the local area immediately downstream of the dam, which, in turn, may reduce flood insurance premiums.