FOLSOM, Calif. (KTXL) -- Federal, state and local officials broke ground on a $440 million project Tuesday to raise the level of the Folsom Dam by 3 and a half feet, increasing its flood protection capacity by 4%.
The project is another step in a decadeslong effort to protect the Sacramento River Basin from a catastrophic flood.
It will raise the dikes and berms that hold lake water up to the level of the concrete dam, which has already had improvements to its gates. The construction of a new spillway would allow excess water to be released during heavy water flows.
During the floods of 1986 and 1997, water nearly flowed over the top of the dam because the original gates could not release it from the reservoir fast enough.
The project is part of a comprehensive flood protection plan that has raised levees in the area.
On the drawing board is the widening of the Yolo Bypass and the Sacramento Weir, which releases excess water from the Sacramento River. Levee strengthening will also take place along the American River below Folsom and the banks of the Sacramento River in South Sacramento.
An additional $1.8 billion is needed for the various projects. So far, funding has come from a combination of federal, state and local dollars.
Sacramento Rep. Doris Matsui has been credited with spearheading federal funding efforts and coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers as it oversees the flood projects.
"We're going to get to 500-year flood protection,” Matsui said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “That was inconceivable 20 years ago. It is now in our sights.”