Tell Stanford University to remove Searsville Dam!
For over a century, Stanford University’s antiquated Searsville Dam has had an enormous negative impact on San Francisquito Creek watershed and greater San Francisco Bay estuary. Built between 1890 and 1892, the 65-foot tall and 275-foot wide 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.
The disappearing reservoir behind the dam flooded and buried a unique valley where over six streams flowed for miles and merged together among adjacent wetland ponds and vast riparian forests before squeezing through a small gorge where the dam now stands. With potential dam removal, restoration of this valley and ponds can provide a valuable flood protection function by soaking up and retaining winter flows and releasing them gradually while providing excellent habitat.
The impassable and obsolete Searsville Dam blocks wild steelhead and other aquatic species from accessing San Francisquito Creek’s largest, historic spawning and rearing tributary flowing through Portola Valley and Woodside.
Across the country and around the world, over 1000 dams that have outlived their usefulness have been removed to restore ecosystem health, improve flood protection, reduce safety risks, comply with environmental regulations, save money, improve water supply operations for the owners, revitalize communities, and provide unique educational and research opportunities. A multi-objective project that involves Searsville Dam removal, enhanced flood protection, sustainable water supply facilities, and watershed restoration can provide all of these benefits to the San Francisquito Creek watershed, Stanford University, and surrounding communities.