Reclamation Seeks Alternatives in Dealing with Seismic Risks at Merced County’s B.F. Sisk Dam

By on August 27, 2019

R. Sisk Dam, also known as San Luis Dam, located in Merced County has been evaluated by the Bureau of Reclamation for potential environmental impacts of various alternatives to reduce seismic risks. Pursuant to the recommended actions from the environmental impact statement/environmental impact (EIS/EIR) report recommended actions are expected to address potential seismic-induced destabilization of the dam, reduce safety concerns and maintaining water supply deliveries to state and federal water contractors.

R. Sisk Dam is co-owned by Reclamation and with the California Department of Water Resources along with the off-stream San Luis Reservoir. The dam is a vital part of the water infrastructure in California’s Central Valley and provides more than two-million acre-feet of supplemental storage capacity for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The adjacent reservoir provides water for local use as well as irrigation and industrial, recreational opportunities and hydroelectric power.

Reclamation has implemented various risk reduction measures as it works to put a more permanent dam safety project in place. Reclamation and DWR expect to begin implementation of seismic modifications of the dam at the end of 2020. In the interim risk reduction measures include real-time seismic monitoring, heightened earthquake monitoring, increased seismic inspection criteria, dam safety tabletop exercises with local responders, and an update to the dam’s emergency management plan.

“The safety and welfare of those living downstream of this dam is our priority,” said Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant. “The project will also ensure we protect this vital water supply resource.”

Reclamation anticipates signing a Record of Decision in October 2019. The Final EIS may be viewed at Reclamation’s website at The Final EIS/EIR considers and addresses all comments received during the public review period on the Draft EIS/EIR. To receive a CD copy of the Final EIS/EIR contact: Jamie LeFevre at 916-978-5035 (TTY 800-877-8339). The public review period ends Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.