Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set to begin.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on Sunday.

Avenue 146, including the Rocky Hill Recreation Area, will be closed for the duration of the Phase 1 project, which is expected to be completee in the summer 2021. The Rocky Hill closure includes all access to the shoreline, day use arbors, and boat launch ramp. Boat launches in the Tule Recreation Area on the east side of the lake will remain open.

The Avenue 146 realignment will reduce road closures during high-water encroachment and provide access for future project work, including construction of a 10-foot-high Ogee Weir across the spillway, and armoring of both the Frazier Dike and the Highway 190 bridge that passes over the lake.

Once completed, the project will increase storage capacity in Success Lake by 28,000 acre-feet and will help improve flood risk reduction for the region.

For more information about the Tule River Spillway Enlargement Project, visit the project web page at https://go.usa.gov/xfQEd.

The project was put on hold for 15 years. But earlier this spring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $30 million contract to begin construction on Phase I of the Success Reservoir Enlargement Project to enlarge Richard L. Schafer Dam. 

Congress authorized the SREP in the Water Resources Development Act in 1999 for the flood control project. SREP construction began in 2003, but was put on hold in 2005 following potential safety concerns with Schafer Dam. Those safety concerns have been resolved, allowing the project to continue.

In October, 2016 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which oversees Success Lake, allocated $200,000 for the SREP. In February, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act which included more than $15 billion for flood and storm damage projects. The SREP was fully funded as a result of the legislation.

On May 18 a $30 million contract was issued for Phase I of the project. Funding for Phase II of the project is expected to be approved in 2021. Phase II will raise the emergency spillway at Schafer Dam by 10 feet.

On August 8, 2019 legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy-R to rename Success Dam to Richard L. Schafer Dam was signed by President Trump. Schafer worked as the Water Master on the Tule River for 56 years.

The Tule River Spillway Enlargement Project received $74 million in appropriations in 2018 to raise Success Dam’s spillway up to 10 feet higher.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers reports there’s now a 1-in-50 chance in any given year for flooding to occur in Porterville from the Tule River. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers reported completion of the SREP will reduce the flood risk in half. The goal is for the construction of the entire project to be completed by 2024.

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