Success Dam: 50 years serving the Valley's thirst
It is good to see Success Dam once again being utilized as it was designed — providing flood relief and water to irrigate crops in the thirsty San Joaquin Valley.
Success Dam is now 50 years old. It’s construction came about from a series of floods in the 1930s and 40s, floods that could have been prevented had their been a dam. Water began building behind the dam in 1961 and it was officially dedicated in 1962. It has literally held back millions of acre feet of water the past 50 years.
Astounding, the dam was constructed for a mere $14 million. We suspect that much has been spent over the past 10 years studying the prospect of raising the spillway just 10 feet that would allow more water to be held behind the dam. We know, raising the spillway or any other work on the dam will cost at least that much. The price tag of the once-contemplated idea of replacing the dam was put at $450 million.
The importance of the dam was never more evident than over the past eight years when storage in the Lake was held down because of concerns over the integrity of the dam. During that time millions of dollars (and acre feet of water) were lost in terms of water for irrigation and recreation. The popular marina disappeared.
Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam, says those safety concerns have been alleviated and the Lake can once again hold as much water as the dam was intended to hold back. Peak storage is 82,000 acre feet of water. After several years that saw the peak storage held below 40,000 acre feet, this year the Corps allowed 65,000 acre feet to be stored and hopefully next year, if Mother Nature cooperates, the lake will be allowed to fill to capacity once again.
It may not look like much driving by, but Lake Success is very important. It has kept land from flooding over the years, but even in low water years when their is no threat of flooding, it has provided water storage that then gave local farmers much needed water to irrigate local crops in the summer months.
We expect Lake Success to be around another 50 years and hopefully we’ll see a return of the marina.
Editorials in The Porterville Recorder are the opinion of the editorial board which consists of Publisher Paula Patton and Editor Rick Elkins. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Recorder.