Escondido, CA

City hits roadblock to building new Wohlford dam

Construction of the new Wohl­ford Dam has been delayed because the project is not eligible for funding through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan program. The city is now looking for alternative sources of grant funding for the $50 million project.

The City Council last year approved the Utility Department’s application for $25 million in SRF loan funding. However, after reviewing the appli­cation, the California Department of Water Resources notified the city that the project was ineligible for funding. Much of the money for the SRF pro­gram comes from federal sources and the federal regulations governing the use of the money specifically prohibit “dams and rehabilitation of dams.”

The total project cost is now pro­jected to be between $45 million and $50 million.

Although the City has been awarded $15 million in matching grant funds from the State of California and has budgeted about $9 million available funds for the project, there is insuffi­cient money to move forward with the project. An additional $21 million to $26 million is needed.

Pending permits needed from San Diego County, staff had planned to bid the first phase of project (realign­ment of Oakvale Road) later this sum­mer. However, additional sources of potential federal funding are presently scheduled for appropriation in one year or later.

One of the most promising sources of federal funding is a program admin­istered by the Department of Agricul­ture to fund dam rehabilitation.

Staff has been in frequent commu­nication concerning the $15 million in matching grant from the State. This grant requires project completion by the end of 2017, which is now not pos­sible.

However, according to a report by city staff, “the grant administrators in the Department of Water Resources have shown a willingness to extend the term of the agreement as necessary to complete the project. This extension is also supported by staff in the Divi­sion of Safety of Dams, a division of the Department of Water Resources, so the outlook for the state grant funding remains bright.”

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