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Carmel River Re-Route and San Clemente Dam Removal

California American Water

WSC is the project manager and construction manager for the removal of the San Clemente Dam and restoration of the Carmel River. When completed, this project will be the largest dam removal project ever completed in California and will set the precedent for future dam removal and river restoration projects in California and nationwide.

Constructed in 1921, the San Clemente Dam is a 106 foot high concrete arch dam located approximately 18.5 miles from the ocean on the Carmel River. Over the years, the reservoir has become over 90% filled with more than 2.5 million cubic yards of sediment, resulting in a reduction in water storage capacity to 70 acre-feet.

The Carmel River is a 36 mile river on the Central Coast of California in Monterey County. Originating in the Santa Lucia Mountains and discharging into the Pacific Ocean south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is one of the largest and biologically rich watersheds in the Central Coast.  With the implementation of a diversion dike, the Carmel River will reroute into the San Clemente Creek approximately 3,000 ft upstream of the San Clemente Dam. This project, when completed, will restore over 25 miles of rearing habitat for the South-Central California Coast Steelhead Trout and the California Red- Legged Frog, both threatened species.

The dam removal and river reroute project totals $83 million and will be funded by both public and private sectors. Following the completion of this project, 928 acres of land will be transferred  to the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management for permanent watershed conservation, public access and recreational trails.  The removal of the dam also eliminates any flood risk, which currently threatens 1,500 homes and buildings while restoring and revitalizing the natural habitat of the Carmel River.

WSC is working on behalf of California American Water as the owner’s representative on this project – leveraging our technical expertise, collaborative approach, and project management capability to successfully bring this multi-stakeholder, environmentally sensitive project from concept through permitting to bidding.  WSC will continue to manage this project through construction.


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