Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Former site of San Clemente Dam, Carmel River

Detailed Description

San Clemente Dam was a 106-foot-high concrete arch dam that was located approximately 18.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Carmel River. It was built in 1921 to create a reservoir to support the growing residential, agricultural, and tourism-related development. Since the 1960s the reservoir had become increasingly sedimented, with over 90 percent of the reservoir filled. As a result, the dam no longer served a role in storing and supplying water. The California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) Division of the Safety of Dams issued a safety order for the dam structure in the early 1990s, and determined that the structure could potentially fail in the event of a large earthquake or flood. The State Coastal Conservancy, National Marine Fisheries Services, and California American Water determined that the best approach for safety and environmental health and restoration was to reroute the Carmel River and remove San Clemente Dam. The project was completed in 2015. Shown here is a view of the redistributed sediment from within the reservoir and from the rerouting of the river. For more information, see the San Clemente Dam Removal & Carmel River Reroute Project Website.


Public Domain.