Searsville Dam Removal

Returning San Francisquito Creek to an “Anchor Watershed” for Steelhead

CalTrout and partners (American Rivers and the Beyond Searsville Dam Coalition) have been urging Stanford University to assess the feasibility of fish passage and removal of Searsville Dam on the San Francisquito Creek which flows through the Stanford campus. For over a century, Stanford University’s antiquated Searsville Dam has impacted San Francisquito Creek watershed and the greater San Francisco Bay estuary. Built in 1892, Searsville Dam has lost over 90% of its original water storage capacity as roughly 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment has filled in the reservoir. Searsville Dam does not provide potable water, flood control, or hydropower – its primary use is providing irrigation water to Stanford campus.

Conservation Goal

  • Remove Searsville Dam to allow steelhead to return to over 10 miles of habitat in the upper watershed. The removal of the dam will allow San Francisquito Creek to be one of the critical “anchor watersheds” for threatened steelhead trout recovery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Stanford University has responded to our and others’ request to assess Searsville Dam by embarking on a process to identify and recommend a set of actions and strategies that address the dam, the surrounding resources, and associated watershed.
  • CalTrout, American River, and Beyond Searsville have been appointed to the Searsville Advisory Group (along with representatives from downstream communities, flood control districts, and other stakeholders) to work with the Stanford’s Searsville Steering Committee to assess future actions. The Searsville Advisory Group has met once a month since February 2013 to review existing information and identify all the interests and concerns of the various parties. Ultimately, the Advisory Group will provide recommendations to the Steering Committee that will address a long-term vision (50-year plan) and consider various actions and strategies necessary to reach that vision (including potential interim measures, adaptive management approaches and sufficient monitoring to assess appropriateness of subsequent actions).

What We Will Accomplish in 2013-14

  • Complete assessment of Searsville Dam.
  • Develop a dam removal plan for Searsville.
  • Continue our legal strategy as back up to the Advisory Group process.

Partners: American Rivers, Beyond Searsville Dam Coalition

Click to see other Central California Region projects