California State Water Project Receives Major Engineering Honor

May 25, 2001

California's State Water Project has received a prestigious award for engineering excellence.

Selected as one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th Century, the SWP is the first project on US soil to be named as a Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

"America's engineers have selected California's water project as one of the greatest engineering marvels of an entire century," said Department of Water Resources Director Thomas M. Hannigan. In California, only the Golden Gate Bridge is slated to receive a similar honor at a ceremony at the span on May 30. DWR planned, built and operates the State Water Project, largest State-run multipurpose water and power system in the nation. Serving 23 million Californians, the SWP is a system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants extending over 600 miles in length. Key features include Oroville Dam, tallest dam in the US, and San Luis Reservoir, largest offstream storage reservoir in the nation. Robert W. Bein, ASCE President, presented the award to Hannigan in ceremonies at the Sacramento Convention Center.

"It is fitting that the largest State-built water development project in the United States would be chosen by ASCE for this special honor," said Bein. "The State Water Project is an outstanding example of engineering ingenuity and dedication to ensuring the public's well-being."

The award ceremony was witnessed by dozens of retired DWR engineers who helped plan and build the State Water Project during the 1950s and 1960s. Among the DWR retirees was Engineer David N. Kennedy, who served longest as DWR Director, from 1983 to 1998. He was a planning engineer in DWR during the 1960s. Kennedy noted that when the State Water Project was built, it included the latest in environmental protection. An example: a temperature control outlet at Oroville Dam that was highly innovative and has benefitted generations of fishing downstream rivers.

DWR Director Hannigan noted that the SWP has served Californians reliably for more than four decades. He reported that since initiating deliveries in 1962, the State Water Project has delivered more than 60 million acre-feet of water.

The only two projects previously honored by ASCE as Millennium Monuments are the Panama Canal and Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.

The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the State Water Project, provides dam safety and flood control and inspection services, assists local water districts in water management and water conservation planning, and plans for future statewide water needs.

Source: DWR PIO