Lake Success project promises to protect Porterville

The second phase of the Lake Success dam project promises increased flood protection for Porterville

PORTERVILLE – While the drought leaves the majority of the valley floor dry, Lake Success stands to hold 20,000 extra acre feet.

The expansion project for Schafer Dam at Lake Success has entered its second phase, just months after completing the first phase that began in 2020. The $135 million project includes building a 10-foot tall ogee weir – a low concrete structure that helps control water flow by widening the dam’s spillway – and adds 20,000 acre feet of water storage.

Improvements to the dam are needed to protect communities downstream in the case of a flood. According to the operations project manager with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Charlie Mauldin, the new ogee weir reduces significant flood risk events such as once or twice in a century heavy storms.

“It’s improved flood management,” Mauldin said, “and of course that protects the population of Porterville down below the dam.”

Because of the increase in storage, the water level will be higher, that means eight existing compounds at the Rocky Hill recreation area – not to be confused with Rocky Hill outside of Exeter – will be demolished and relocated to higher ground. On the main recreation side of the lake, a restroom and a lift station will have to be relocated for the same reason.

The second phase comes after the recent completion of the first phase in February 2022. The first phase involved widening and relocating the access road in preparation for the raised water levels that will come after phase two.

The project will also increase irrigation storage. According to Mauldin, the extra water storage makes it easier for people downstream to manage the water.

“They have more flexibility basically because we have more storage,” Mauldin said.

Rocky Hill Recreation Area near Lake Success has been closed since August 2020 and will remain closed until the end of phase two, which is estimated to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024. The closure includes the boat launch ramp and all shoreline access.

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