With the impending winter’s snow comes the imminent hibernation of construction projects around North Tahoe, including Boca Dam, 6 miles north of Truckee. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) modifications to the dam began May of this year to address stability during future earthquakes.

Depending on cooperative weather and approval of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, construction crews will continue work through the end of October, and possibly into early November.

“Things are going well,” said Scott Schoenfeld of the BOR Carson City office. “We’re ahead of schedule a little bit … We’ve completed the spillway excavation and spillway work so it will be operational this year as needed for flood control.”

The Boca Reservoir will not need to be lowered again in relation to the project, nor will Boca Dam Road be closed due to high levels of precipitation, as it has been in the past.

“We’re doing this to make sure we protect the downstream population,” Schoenfeld said. “We take it seriously that we have these dams up there, and we don’t want to put people at higher risk than they normally are … If it’s a year or two that you can’t use Boca, I think that’s a price we’re all willing to pay.”

Schoenfeld said he didn’t receive many complaints — most comments on the project were calls from people interested in the construction progress.

Boca’s northern neighbor, Stampede Reservoir, underwent its own dam makeover in 2018.

“That was a hydrologic risk, [a] big hydrologic event,” Schoenfeld said. “There’s a couple little lingering things to get completed, but it’s 99% complete.”

When the Boca project is complete, expected to be around October or November 2020, Schoenfeld will take over operations and maintenance of the dam.

Main Image Caption: DAM PHOTO:  The Bureau of Reclamation found that the Boca dam and dike were at risk for structural damage and failure during an earthquake scenario. Plans for renovation include removing sand and gravel and constructing a downstream stability berm to buttress the dam. Photo courtesy Bureau of Reclamation