Interactive graphic

Rerouting a river and removing its 106-foot-tall concrete dam

California’s largest-ever dam removal is set to begin this summer near Carmel. The $84-million project will divert the flow of the Carmel River into the channel of San Clemente Creek, rerouting a half mile of the river. The dam will be dismantled in stages.

Construction plan
The rerouted river

Current view of San Clemente Dam

Construction plan

The rerouted river

1. Reroute channel

The Carmel River will be rerouted into the bed of San Clemente Creek.

2. Combined flow

Flows of the Carmel River and San Clemente Creek will merge for a short distance above the dam site.

3. Diversion dike

Excavated rock will be used to block the river from its old channel.

4. Sediment stockpile

The majority of sediment buildup has occurred behind the dam in the Carmel River, but sediment has also accumulated in San Clemente Creek. More than 380,000 cubic yards of dirt will be removed from the creek bed and added to the storage area.

5. Sediment slope

Sediment will be graded into a slope to stabilize it.

6. San Clemente Dam

Demolition of the dam is scheduled to occur in stages. Removal of the dam’s final pieces will take place after the rerouting is completed.