AECOM and the CSU Hydraulics Lab Collaborate to Test a Design to Raise the Los Vaqueros Dam


Christopher Thornton

AECOM, the Contra Costa Water District and the California Department of Water Resources have joined with Chris Thornton and the hydraulics lab to build a 1:12 scale model and AECOM’s design for raising the Los Vaqueros Dam in northeastern California.

The Contra Costa Water District commissioned the renovation to raise the dam 58 feet and expand its holding capacity by 70 percent. A feasibility report projects the renovation will cost $900 million. The Los Vaqueros Reservoir secured by the dam supplies drinking water to more than 600,000 customers.

Associate Professor Chris Thornton uses a video camera to give stakeholders a close-up view as water rushes down the spillway model at CSU’s Hydraulics Lab. Real-time data from the model is displayed on the screen on the left

Associate Professor Chris Thornton uses a video camera to give stakeholders a close-up view as water rushes down the spillway model at CSU’s Hydraulics Lab. Real-time data from the model is displayed on the screen on the left

Construction on the model began in the spring and was completed in September. Civil engineering graduate student Cody Volt and research associate and lab manager Taylor Hogan built the model from their AutoCAD design to physical construction. Now they are overseeing its testing.

AECOM and Thornton have previously worked together to vet a design. Last year the CSU team constructed a model of the Gross Dam spillway for AECOM’s project with Denver Water.

Read More: story by Jayme DeLoss.