The construction of the US$200M Olivenhain dam project in southern California started officially in December 2000 with a blast of dynamite. The dam is targeted for completion in 2003.

The Olivenhain dam is part of a US$774.5M plan by the San Diego County Water Authority to create an emergency water supply in the event of natural disasters, such as an earthquake or severe drought.

The 94m high Olivenhain dam, located in a narrow gorge, will be built as a roller compacted concrete structure and will impound more than 29M m3 of water. The reservoir will have a surface area of 81ha and a maximum depth of 91m.

A US$100M contract for the dam’s construction is scheduled to go out for bid shortly, with the contract slated to be awarded in February. In the second phase of the emergency water storage project, another pipeline will be built to connect the reservoir with Lake Hodges and six pump stations will be used to move water through the system. These are expected to be completed by 2008.

The final phase envisages raising the water level at San Vicente dam by 16m, allowing storage of another 64M m3 of water by 2010.