Monday February 27, 2023


In the foothills above the Stanford campus, on university land within the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, lies the Searsville Reservoir and Dam.

The dam was originally built in 1891 by the Spring Valley Water Company to provide drinking water for the region. However, the reservoir never proved to be a good source of drinking water due to the high concentration of sediment in the Corte Madera Creek that feeds the reservoir. Searsville was acquired by Stanford in 1919 to provide irrigation water for the campus, and it became a popular recreational destination for local residents until the mid-1970s when the biological preserve was established.

In more recent years, Searsville has posed a difficult challenge: How to address 132 years of gradually accumulating sediment that now fills 90 percent of the reservoir’s capacity?

After years of careful study and extensive public outreach, Stanford has developed a unique solution that will restore natural water and sediment flows without increasing downstream flood risks. The project will also enable fish passage and restore the native habitat above the dam.

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