California State Parks
RDA authorizes $444 million for new Folsom Dam spillway

Enactment of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act includes means $444 million in additional authorized federal funds for the Army Corps of Engineers’ new spillway project at Folsom Dam outside Sacramento.

Initial work, already is under way, thanks to authorizations in earlier WRDAs, and appropriations. The Corps, working with the state Reclamation Board and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the non-federal sponsors of the Joint Federal Project at Folsom, awarded a $16-million phase-one contract in October to Kiewit Pacific for clearing and excavation work at the site. Kiewit won the contract mainly because it was in the midst of a $117-million, four-lane bridge project across the American River below the dam and had lots of equipment handy, resulting in the lowest bid.
Michael Finnegan, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region, says the budget for the spillway project is in the neighborhood of $800 million to $900 million. As a federal reclamation project, Folsom Dam has the highest safety, flood control and security priorities among many dams in California, which resulted in some overlapping jurisdictions and delays in getting the spillway project under way.
Finnegan says, “The Corps is in charge of flood control and had used previous WRDA funding in the 1990s, but the other entities in the state had other priorities as well and our job was coordinating and combining three different Folsom Dam projects into one.” He adds that a complicated plan was dropped in 2005 because of inflated bids.
The new plan calls for a $1.3 billion, 15-year dam safety and flood control project that will need federal appropriations, Finnegan says. He adds that the current project’s cost estimate is about $1 billion less than the price tags for three plans offered in 2005.