One does not usually equate the city of Modesto with dams and reservoirs. It's true there is a Modesto Reservoir, but it is fifteen miles east of the city. But there is a dam in the city limits, and it has been a problem and an eyesore for decades. Back in 1933 someone had the bright idea of building a small dam on the Tuolumne River by the 9th Street bridge and constructing a nice park built around boating and swimming. Dennett Dam was built, and it lasted an entire seven years before being mostly destroyed by flooding. The park never materialized, and the remains of the dam lay abandoned. At some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to cut an opening in the dam to allow fish to surmount the structure and swim upstream (the Tuolumne is a salmon river).
|Dennett Dam during a bad River Hyacinth year. Picture courtesy of Patrick Koepele of the Tuolumne River Trust|
What was to be done? No one wanted to own the dam or be responsible for the problems it was causing. The city of Modesto set aside some funds around 2006, but unexpectedly high costs torpedoed the project. In 2010, the Tuolumne River Trust got involved and began to organizing fundraising efforts, both from individual contributions and grants from the State Lands Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Water Resources, USA Fish and Wildlife Service, and local agencies. Ultimately, $1.6 million was raised and work has begun. It's sort of a complicated process.
If you want to see the progress over the next few weeks (or months?), it's easy to find. The dam is almost under the 9th Street Bridge in south Modesto. There is a pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge, so just park nearby and walk out.