PG&E to upgrade Lower Bucks Lake Dam in 2020

Pacific Gas and Electric Company will be upgrading the Lower Bucks Lake Dam next year by attaching a waterproof membrane to the upstream surface of the dam to prevent seepage and extend the dam’s service life.

The project requires PG&E to drain the reservoir and close public access to the lake from May to November in 2020.

To ensure public safety, Bucks Penstock Road (U.S. Forest Service Route 24N34) and Three Lakes Road (USFS Route 24N24) will be closed leading to and around the lake so PG&E’s contractors can work safely. The area 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.

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Lower Bucks Lake is immediately downstream of the much larger Bucks Lake, which will remain at or above seasonal levels during the project and fully available for recreation and camping.

Lower Bucks Lake is at 5,022 feet in elevation and is a 136-acre reservoir. Bucks Lake is an 18,500-acre reservoir. The lakes are about 15 miles southwest of Quincy in the Plumas National Forest.

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 the concrete.

To offset lost fishing opportunities in the area during the project, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife 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.

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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.

PG&E will build a small coffer dam just upstream from Lower Bucks Lake Dam to capture any runoff water from surrounding streams or rains.

Lower Bucks Lake Dam was completed in 1928 by Feather River Power Company and acquired by PG&E in 1936.