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Framing at the face of Searsville Dam

Framing at the face of Searsville Dam

Searsville Reservoir

The Spring Valley Water Company completed construction of the Searsville Dam in 1891 using a design of interlocking cast-in-place concrete blocks. Stanford University purchased the Searsville Dam from the Spring Valley Water Company in the early 1900s. Searsville Reservoir has been and continues to be a source of irrigation water for Stanford University.

Felt Reservoir and Dam

Felt Dam is an earth fill dam, originally built by Job Felt in 1876, but later expanded by Stanford in 1889 and fully replaced in 1929, to create an off-stream storage facility known as Felt Reservoir.  Felt Reservoir serves as a primary source of the irrigation supply (campus landscaping and the golf course), stock-watering, and fire suppression. Water in Felt Reservoir is supplied from Los Trancos Creek, San Francisquito Creek, and Searsville Reservoir.

Felt Reservoir from Above

Felt Reservoir

San Francisquito Creek Pump Station Under Construction

San Francisquito Creek Pump Station under construction

San Francisquito Creek Pump Station

The San Francisquito Creek Pump Station was originally constructed in 1999, and modified in 2009, to divert water from San Francisquito Creek. The pump station is located within the Stanford Golf Course.

Searsville Alternatives Steering Committee and Advisory Group

In 2011, Stanford University formed a faculty and staff Steering Committee to evaluate options and ultimately develop a recommended course of action to address the future of Searsville Dam and Reservoir. To ensure that the study process had the benefit of a broad range of community perspectives and expertise, Stanford University also invited a group of public agency representatives, non-government organizations and community members to be part of a Searsville Advisory Group.

After an extensive four-year study, the Steering Committee made the following three recommendations:

  1. Achieve fish passage in one of two ways, while avoiding an increase in flooding and also preserving riparian and wetlands habitats:
  • Modify the dam with an opening at its base to provide fish passage and attenuate high flows
  • Stabilize the sediment in place behind the dam and provide fish passage with a fish ladder or fishway or reroute the creek

  1. Restore the natural sediment process – sediment flows downstream
  2. Create a replacement water diversion downstream and relocate the Searsville storage function to an expanded Felt Reservoir

Keeping the Steering Committee’s recommendations in mind, Stanford University is now pursuing the Searsville Water Restoration Project (Project) which will restore the hydraulic and natural sediment process in a manner designed to avoid increased flood risk. It also restores fish passage to the upper watershed and preserves sustainable surface water supply and water rights. The Project provides engineering and environmental research opportunities and meets the University’s long-range planning goals of sustainability and environmental stewardship.