With its structural integrity in question and operational safety a concern, McKay Point on the Kaweah River was given a face-lift and now has two new water control structures, one on the Lower Kaweah River and one on the St. Johns River. The new structures are located immediately downstream and are replacements to the upstream McKay Point weirs.
The Kaweah River flows westward 32 miles from the Sierra Nevada to the Central Valley, where it flows into Lake Kaweah and is managed for flood protection and stored for irrigation purposes. From there, the river splits into two rivers – Lower Kaweah and St. Johns – at McKay Point, located southeast of the City of Woodlake. At McKay Point, weirs constructed in the 1920s or 1930s diverted the water equally into the two rivers for downstream water rights users. For years, this was how the rivers were managed for downstream users.
The Project was performed in compliance with all local, State and Federal regulatory and/or resources agency requirements. The Project goal of providing safe operating conditions with a higher degree of control during both irrigation and flood flows was achieved.
Lake Kaweah Enlargement/Terminus Dam Spillway
McKay Point Reconstruction
Newly Reconstructed McKay Point Structure
Old McKay Point Structure
Terminus Dam Spillway Under Construction
Terminus Dam Spillway Construction Complete
Lake Kaweah was originally created in 1962 with the completion of Terminus Dam. Built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in cooperation with local sponsors, the main Dam is 250 feet high, 2,375 feet long and was designed to provide a 60-year level of flood protection. After the flood of 1955 and over $20 million in flood damage to downstream areas, the cost/benefit ratio of building a dam became too great to ignore any longer. The dam was built for approximately $24 million. Ever since, Lake Kaweah has been a key to the urban and agricultural development that has occurred in the Kaweah Basin area.
Its 3 main functions include:
- Flood control for over 300,000 citizens & approx. 500,000 acres of land.
- Storage for irrigation water for much of the #1 Ag County in the Country.
- Improved water conservation options in this severely overdraft basin.
Even though the dam has been extremely beneficial, there still have been in excess of 10 flooding events since 1962 thus leading to the planning and eventual construction of the new Terminus Dam Spillway. This construction raised the lake level by 21 feet, increasing the storage capacity by about 1/3 to store a total of 185,600 acre-feet, and in total cost approximately $56 million. The enlargement project has had a ripple effect as well. Not only does it provide for more flood control and increased water storage, but it also has been beneficial in numerous road and bridge improvements in the vicinity of the lake. It additionally involved the creation of many large environmental elements such as flora and fauna sites in excess of 5,700 acres.
Photo Credits: Allen Wilson