Bethany Dams Improvement Project

Bethany Dam road and reservoir

Photo of Bethany Forebay Dam Crest road and reservoir. DWR/2019

The Bethany Dams Improvement Project that began in April of 2021 and is planned for completion by end of 2021 includes improvement repairs to the Bethany Forebay Dam and four auxiliary dams in Alameda County. The 110-foot high earthen embankment Bethany Forebay Dam and four saddle dams were completed from 1961 to 1967 and impounds Bethany Reservoir.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) routinely inspects Bethany Dams and their associated facilities to ensure they remain safe and are performing as intended. Inspections by DWR and independent consultants deem Bethany Dams and Reservoir safe for continued use and are being operated and maintained properly. From recent dam safety inspections, the following items were identified and planned for:

  • a comprehensive plan to repair rodent burrow holes and repair erosion gullies, and
  • a long-term plan to protect the embankments from future rodent habitation.

Located 10 miles northwest of Tracy, Bethany Reservoir serves several purposes, such as a forebay for the South Bay Pumping Plant (the start of the South Bay Aqueduct of the State Water Project), afterbay for Banks Pumping Plant, conveyance facility for the California Aqueduct, and recreational facility that includes picnicking, boating, biking, and hiking.

The Project

DWR plans to perform the following maintenance activities as part of the Bethany Dams and Reservoir Improvement Project:

  • restoration measures – excavate and backfill each downstream dam face to repair rodent holes and erosion areas.
  • preventative measures – place downstream embankment rock slope protection with wire mesh underlayment to prevent future rodent burrowing.

Project Components 

The Bethany Dams Improvement Project map shows four improvement repair sites to the Bethany Forebay Dam and four saddle dams in Alameda County. Sites are located along Bethany Reservoir, which is located near Tracy and south of Sacramento. Christensen Road provides entrance to Bethany Reservoir. With parking closed due to the project, there are new temporary parking locations near the boat launch ramp and picnic area. Bethany dam repair sites are identified with green circles. Closed roads are on the northern side of the reservoir. Temporary parking is shown with blue boxes.

What to Expect

  • Bethany Reservoir State Recreation area is temporarily closed to vehicular access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit the CA Parks website.
  • During the project, DWR will be operating construction equipment and transporting materials to the site. Some localized noise and increased activity may be expected.
  • Two existing parking lots at Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area are temporarily closed to the public for use as equipment and materials staging and stockpiling areas. Additional parking locations will be made available during construction
  • Temporary closure of a one-mile section of the 1.8 mile trail along the reservoir.

Contact Us

For more information on the Bethany Dams Improvement Project, contact:

or call Maggie Macias at: (916) 820-7662