The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a ceremony October 1 to formally rename Success Dam after longtime Tule River Water Master Richard L. Schafer.
At 93 years old, Schafer remains an integral member of the Central Valley water community, maintaining active participation on numerous water boards and providing consultation for 13 different water management organizations. He has served as the Tule River Water Master for the last 56 years.
"I never thought of this happening, but it's a real honor," said Schafer. "The Corps [of Engineers] are the renowned dam builders of the nation; that's what they do. I am so pleased to see so many of the Corps people here."
For the last 20 years, Schafer has spearheaded the local effort to partner with the Corps of Engineers to increase water storage in Lake Success.
Today, the Tule River Spillway Enlargement Project is funded and scheduled to start construction next year. The Corps plans to widen the existing spillway 165 feet and construct a 10-foot-high Ogee Weir, which would increase the reservoir pool by 28,000 acre-feet. These modifications will not only increase irrigation water storage space, but will also lower flood risk for downstream communities like Porterville.
"It is not often that we get the chance to rename a dam, and it is a special privilege to honor a man like Richard L. Schafer who has done so much for this community and the nation," said Sacramento District Commander Col. James Handura.
"This is a much-deserved honor," said Representative Kevin McCarthy, who introduced the bill to rename the Success Dam facility after Mr. Richard L. Schafer. The bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 9, 2019.
Approximately 100 people attended the renaming ceremony at the dam, including many members of Schafer's family. Handura, Rep. McCarthy, County Supervisor Dennis Townsend, Walter Bricker of the Tule River Association, and Schafer all delivered remarks.
Since its construction in 1961, Schafer Dam has prevented an estimated total of $200 million in damage and reduced flood risk for a population of more than 76,000 people. The dam is a multipurpose facility designed to provide flood damage reduction benefits, water storage, recreation, and electrical power generation.