Yuba Water Agency dams deemed safe in recent state assessment

Yuba Water Agency dams deemed safe in recent state assessment

Yuba Water Agency’s New Bullards Bar Dam, constructed in 1970, recently received the highest safety rating possible by California’s Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams.

A comprehensive listing of California’s major dams issued this month notes that, once again, New Bullards Bar, the fifth tallest dam in the United States, and Yuba Water Agency’s other dams (Our House, Log Cabin and Lake Francis) received the “satisfactory” rating, which is the highest rating issued by the state.

The state assesses dam conditions based on annual physical inspections and comprehensive re-evaluation studies, as well as technical analyses submitted by the dam owners. Yuba Water Agency’s dams have always received this high rating.

“There is nothing more important to us than public safety,” said Brent Hastey, Yuba Water Agency chairman. “We invest heavily in maintenance and upkeep for all of our dams, and are also upgrading New Bullards Bar with a new, additional spillway to provide the greatest measure of safety possible in future, large storm events.”

The $160 million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar is the largest planned project for this facility. While the primary purpose of this facility is to significantly reduce flood risk downstream, it will also substantially enhance dam safety by providing a redundant spillway that could handle a 1997-type flood by itself, if the main spillway became inoperable. This project is scheduled for completion in 2025.

Yuba Water Agency is also refurbishing the spillway gate drive mechanisms to ensure reliable operation well into the future. This work includes replacing the 50-year-old motors, electrical wiring and controls, and refurbishing some of the gearboxes that raise and lower the spill gates. This current phase is expected to cost approximately $665,000. This work is in progress and is expected to be complete by October.