Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it will be upgrading the Lower Bucks Lake Dam this year by attaching a waterproof membrane to the upstream surface of the dam to prevent seepage and extend the dam’s service life. PG&E will also remove woody debris and sediment from the Grizzly Forebay, resulting in public safety closures for both lakes.
The Lower Bucks Lake work requires PG&E to drain the reservoir and close public access to the lake from May 1 to sometime in November. Grizzly Forebay and its seven walk-in and boat-in campsites and a day-use area will be closed during the same time period.
To ensure public safety, Bucks Penstock Road (U.S. Forest Service Route 24N34), Three Lakes Road (USFS Route 24N24) and Grizzly Forebay Road (USFS Route 24N34A) will be closed leading to and around the lakes so PG&E’s contractors can work safely with large trucks and heavy equipment. Lower Bucks Lake will be off limits to the public as the lake bottom will have soft mud that may be dangerous for foot traffic.
The seven U.S. Forest Service campsites and a private campground at Lower Bucks Lake will be closed for the duration of the project.
Lower Bucks Lake is immediately downstream of the much larger Bucks Lake, which will remain open during the project and fully available for recreation and camping as allowed during the coronavirus response.
PG&E will redirect water from the outlet at the Bucks Lake Dam by temporary pipe around Lower Bucks Lake to empty into the creek below Lower Bucks Dam to meet instream flow requirements. Following dewatering, contractors for PG&E will remove sediment against the dam and then install the geomembrane liner, which will prevent water from seeping through the dam and reduce future freeze-thaw damage to concrete.
To offset lost fishing opportunities in the area during the project, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and PG&E evaluated several options. A fish rescue was not considered a viable option during the lake’s drawdown due to steep terrain, safety concerns and limited access.
CDFW and PG&E instead will focus efforts on providing additional fishing opportunities at Bucks Lake during the dam repair work, including doubling the number of catchable-sized rainbow trout stocked. This is in addition to the normal number of brown trout and brook trout planted as well as rebuilding the Lower Bucks Lake fishery through aggressive stocking following the work.
Grizzly Forebay and powerhouse are part of the Bucks Creek Project, with PG&E and the City of Santa Clara joint licensees. The facilities are operated by PG&E under contract with the City of Santa Clara. Removing woody debris and sediment will increase water storage and prevent flow blockage caused by debris.