The 100-foot-tall Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek is located in Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains, about three miles upstream from Southern California’s Malibu coastline. Construction of the concrete dam and spillway structure was completed in 1926 on the Rindge family property and provided water for irrigation and household use in Malibu. The reservoir filled entirely with sediment by the 1940s, and the dam was decommissioned in 1967. It was purchased shortly thereafter by State Parks and is now part of Malibu Creek State Park.
California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks)
Malibu Creek in Malibu
Construction completed in 1926; Decommissioned in 1967
Height: 100 ft, Total capacity: 600-acre ft completely filled with sediment
California Dept of Parks and Rec, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Santa Monica Mountains Resource Conservation District, City of Malibu, Mountains Restoration Trust, Surfrider, Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.
Since it was originally constructed in 1926, Rindge Dam has altered the geomorphic, riparian, and aesthetic character of Malibu Creek. The dam has trapped approximately 780,000 cubic yards of sediment naturally destined for the coast, where it would have supported beach and nearshore habitats. The reservoir behind Rindge Dam filled with sediment less than 30 years after its construction, and it was subsequently decommissioned in 1967. Below Rindge Dam, the lower three miles of Malibu Creek are designated critical habitat for the federally endangered steelhead. The dam blocks steelhead access to approximately 18 miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat in the creek and its tributaries.
The removal of Rindge Dam represents a unique opportunity for systemic and sustainable ecological restoration in Southern California, a highly urbanized area. Due to its lack of function as a water storage facility, Rindge Dam is deemed obsolete and has been the subject of removal planning for decades. While there is little disagreement about the need to remove Rindge Dam, progress has been incremental given science and engineering complexities. The dam removal process was formalized in 1992 when the U.S. House of Representatives commissioned the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study, which requested a solution to improve the Malibu Creek watershed and Malibu shoreline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) co-led this study to evaluate opportunities for ecosystem restoration that would improve aquatic and riparian habitat connectivity and restore the transportation of natural sediment back to the coast. The removal of Rindge Dam’s concrete arch and spillway, plus the removal and/or modification of eight smaller upstream fish passage barriers, and the removal of approximately 780,000 cubic yards of impounded sediment has been selected as the Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) by State Parks and involved stakeholders.
The Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Study Final Integrated Feasibility Report, which was completed in November 2020 and signed by Commanding General Scott Spellmon in December 2020, called for the design phase of the project to begin in 2023. The 2021-2022 California State Budget allocated $12.5 million for California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) to lead the design phase of this project over the next four years, which includes completing technical studies, dam removal designs, environmental permitting, and communication and public outreach. CalTrout is partnering with State Parks to lead communication and public outreach. The transportation of sediment trapped behind Rindge Dam is a particularly complex element of the project. The Local Preferred Plan (LPP) has approximately one-third of the impounded sediment to be trucked to Ventura Harbor, placed on barges, and deposited along the Malibu shoreline and/or nearshore areas that have been starved of sediment since Rindge Dam was built. The remaining sediment will be deposited at a local landfill. Based on the current schedule, Rindge dam is expected to be completely removed by 2035. Its removal will bolster endangered steelhead populations and healthy beaches, supporting both fish and people.
Help Endangered Southern California Steelhead: Attend public meetings about the project. Contact federal and state legislators with support for Rindge Dam removal. Follow media releases at caltrout.org. Donate to support Reconnecting Habitats.Help Us
Explore the Dams Out ArcGIS StoryMap created by our Communications Team. The StoryMap guides viewers on an interactive journey through each of the dams included in CalTrout's 2022 Top 5 Dams Out Report. Explore photos, videos, maps, and more content to learn why it is so crucial that we get these five dams out. Keep scrolling to view the StoryMap or click the button below to view the StoryMap in a new tab.