Los Vasqueros Reservoir expanding ahead of schedule

October 7, 2011 6:33:26 PM PDT
The Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County is expanding by more than 50 percent, ensuring the Bay Area has plenty of drinking water.

As heavy equipment moves hundreds of tons of earth and rock into place, the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir is beginning to take shape.

"We're raising the dam crest, the top of the dam, by 34 feet, which enables us to increase the maximum water level of the dam going from 100,000 acre feet capacity to 160,000 acre feet in capacity," said director of construction Dan Owre.

The added capacity from the $118 million will help take the pressure off the fragile delta ecosystem, requiring less water to be pumped into the Central Valley.

The project will provide long-term stability for the district's 500,000 customers -- an insurance policy of sorts during drought years.

The construction is being done under budget and at least six months ahead of schedule.

"This contractor wanted to do it much more aggressive and accelerated, so he's actually done an approach where he is working six 10-hour days and has now gone to two 10-hour shifts every day," said project manager Bob Henry.

Once the project is finished next spring, the project will include renovation and expansion of Los Vaqueros Marina for those who visit the reservoir for recreation.

"It will provide more fishing opportunities and we'll also be modifying the trail system around the water shed to accommodate the larger reservoir," said Contra Costa Water District's Jennifer Allen.

The project was put out to bid at a time when contractors were offering their services at very low prices. The project is also providing some badly-needed jobs in the economy, with more than 100 workers on the project.

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