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Senior dam safety program manager visits Prado Dam spillway project

Posted on March 20, 2023

CORONA, California – To get a first-hand look at Prado Dam and better understand upcoming modifications to its spillway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ senior Dam and Levee Safety Branch program manager toured the spillway, exterior and deep interior of the dam, March 9, at Corona, California.

“Seeing presentations of the project never do it justice to see the scale of the economy and residences downstream,” said Travis Tutka, acting chief of the Dam and Levee Safety Branch at the Corps’ Headquarters, adding his visit was to “truly understand the consequences associated and the scale of this impressive project.”

Tutka was updated on future safety improvements to the Prado Dam spillway by Los Angeles District engineers, project managers and district engineering chief Pamela Lovasz, as they viewed the dam and its basin.

Normally, the Prado Dam basin is a dry, wooded area; however, currently, hundreds of acres of trees are submerged within the basin following recent heavy winter storms.

Using visual displays, Richard Lee, Nirav Patel and Phil Serpa, employees with the Corps’ Los Angeles District Operations Division, and Kirsten Bedolla, deputy lead engineer for the Prado spillway modifications project, explained the changes in store for Prado Dam, while also pointing out where spillway improvements will be implemented, from on top of the dam. To date, the dam has never seen water flow over the spillway; however, it could happen in an extreme weather event.

“It’s important for headquarters to see our projects in person, so they know the challenges we face,” Bedolla said.

Patel echoed the importance of Tutka’s visit.

“It’s nice to let management know what we’re doing out here and how we’re benefitting the public,” Patel said.


Prado Dam is a flood-risk management project and a major feature of the ongoing Santa Ana River Mainstem project. It was designed in the 1930s, constructed in 1941 and is located on the Santa Ana River in the City of Corona in Riverside County. It is operated and maintained by the Corps’ Los Angeles District and is in the process of being modified as part of the larger Santa Ana River Mainstem project.

Prado Dam reduces flood risk to more than 1.3 million people working in four counties and more than $80 billion in property. The reservoir is typically dry, but it has the capacity to store large volumns of water, resulting in an estimated $207 million in annual flood damage reduction benefits.

Modification of the dam began in 2002 to provide additional capacity for storage of floodwaters and sediment by enlarging the existing Prado Dam and reservoir, which included raising the main dam embankment, replacing the outlet works, constructing other embankments, also known as dikes, and improving the downstream channel. Modification of the spillway is the last feature of the project to be constructed, which includes raising the spillway by 20 feet.

Although the dam is undergoing improvements, it continues to be fully functional and operable during storm events. Corps’ staff are routinely on site at Prado Dam to operate and monitor the dam during rain events.

Prado Dam is receiving $655 million for consruction under the president’s fiscal year 2024 budget for the U.S. Army Civil Works program.


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