Putting Nature First

by Craig Hunt, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering, Reston, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1999, Vol. 69, Issue 7, Pg. 64-65

Document Type: Feature article


From salamander tunnels to hotels for red-legged frog, the $450 million Los Vaqueros dam and reservoir project in northern California put environmental concerns first in its planning and design. Because of this unprecedented approach, the 3-year project is the first major water project in the state to be built in the last decade. Working closely with state and federal environmental regulators, the owner, the Contra Costa Water District, headed off problems before they started. Within a 20,000 acre (8,094 ha) protected watershed, the reservoir impounds 100,000 acre-feet (123 million m³) of water held back by a 192 ft (58.5 m) high, 3 million cu yd (2.3 million m³) earthen dam. The project, completed in December 1997, brings fresh drinking water to more then 400,000 residents and 28 industrial customers. The Los Vaqueros project is the 1999 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award winner.

Subject Headings: Reservoirs | Environmental issues | Tunnels | Commercial buildings | Sustainable development | Federal government | Owners | Watersheds | California | United States

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