Fullerton Dam

Fullerton Dam

Fullerton Dam, constructed, operated and maintained by the Corps of Engineers (COE), is a single purpose flood control project. The dam is located in the eastern part of the city of Fullerton just west of the 57 Freeway and Bastanchury Road crossing. Construction on the dam began in June 1940 and was completed in May 1941. Fullerton Dam, one of the units of the flood-control project for the San Gabriel River Basin and Orange County, California, was conceived under authorization of the Flood Control Act of 22 June 1936.

Fullerton Dam controls 5.0 square miles of drainage area of Fullerton Creek and its tributaries. Fullerton Creek generally flows southwesterly into the reservoir. Below the dam, the creek flows southwesterly through the southeast portion of the city of Fullerton, then turns due west near Harbor Boulevard. The creek continues to flow westward through the city of Buena Park and La Palma until joining Coyote Creek, a tributary of the San Gabriel river.

Fullerton Dam consists of : (1) an earthfilled embankment; (2) a reinforced concrete outlet works; (3) an ungated outlet; (4) a detached spillway; and (5) reservoir.

The stand-by gate setting for the dam is currently 2 gates open at 1.1 feet. The regulation schedule at the dam during flood events is based on a combination of precipitation at the Fullerton Dam station during the preceding 30-minute period, current water surface elevation and the downstream channel capacity at Richmond Avenue. Each parameter is evaluated as to its magnitude, correlated to the regulation schedule, thus resulting in a desired discharge from the dam.

The downstream channel reach is about 11 miles long and drains 15.9 square miles of generally urban area. The channel capacity immediately downstream of the dam is 500 cfs as provided by a rectangular reinforced concrete channel. Downstream channel capacity varies widely throughout the reach to Coyote Creek. The capacities range from 500 cfs to 7,500 cfs with channel configurations varying from a box to rectangular to trapezoidal. The channel capacity at Richmond Avenue is 2,900 cfs.

The current water control manual for Fullerton Dam was approved in May 1989.


Operational Objectives   Flood Control    
Original Completion Date   March-1941 Authorized as part of SAR
Stream System    Brea Creek  LACDA, drains to San Gabriel River
Drainage Area    5.0 mi2  
Significant Upstream Flood Control Facilities3   None    
DSAC Rating   4    
 Elevation Local Datum +1.54 ft = NAVD 1988
  Original Streambed Elecation2   261.0 ft 262.5
  Intake Invert2   261.0 ft 262.5
  Spillway crest   290.0 ft 291.5
  Revised Spillway design surcharge level3   298.4 ft 299.9
  Top of dam4   307.0 ft 308.5
  Spillway crest   62 acres  
  Spillway design surcharge level3   92 acres  
  Top of dam   130 acres  
 Capacity, Gross1      
  Spill way crest   764 af  
  Spill way design surcharge level3   1,394 af  
  Top of dam   2,306 af  
  Allowance for sediment (50-year)2   230 af  
Dam Type: Earthfill    
  Height above streambed   46 ft  
  Top length   575 ft  
  Top width   15 ft  
Spillway2 Type: Detached Concrete Ogee Weir on left under Associated Rd.
  Crest length   40 ft  
  Original Design freeboard   8.6 ft  
  Revised PMF available freeboard3   5.5 ft  
Outlets2 Type: Right Abutment
  Number and size   1 - 3.0' W x 2' H ft  
  Entrance invert elevation   275 ft 276.5
  Gate type   Screw-Stem Hoist Vertical Lift    
  Number and size   2 - 3' W x 5' H ft  
  Entrance & Exit invert elevations   261 & 260.4 ft 262.5 & 261.9
 Conduits   Conduit capacity limits max. outflow    
  Number and size   1 - 4'W x 6'H ft  
  Length   1 - 4'W x 6'H ft  
  Maximum conduit capacity at spillway crest   590 cfs  
  Maximum schedule release4   500 cfs  
  Length   500 cfs  
Reservoir Design Flood ➜   Original2   Resived SPP3
  Duration (Inflow)   5 days 1.75
  Total volume   1,730 af 1,750
  Inflow peak   4,600 cfs 2,100
  Outflow peak   240 cfs 1,250
  Maximum water surface elevation   289.7 (291.2 NAVD) ft 293.8 (295.3 NAVD)
  Routed with 1989 WCM regulation schedule4   289.7 (291.2 NAVD) ft 293.8 (295.3 NAVD)
Spillway Design Flood ➜   Original2   Resived PMP2
  Duration (Inflow)   1 days 9 hrs
  Total volume   2,290 af 1,820
  Inflow peak   9,300 cfs 16,000
  Outflow peak   3,640 cfs 5,650
  Maximum water surface elevation   298.4 (299.9 NAVD) ft 301.5 (303.0 NAVD)
Historic Maximums Date Local Datum   NAVD 1988
  Maximum water surface elevation 1/31/1979 285.6 ft 287.1 NAVD
  Maximum storage (27% full) 1/31/1979 522.5 af  
  Maximum 1-hr Inflow 3/14/1941 3,800 cfs  
  Maximum release 3/1/1983 444 cfs  
*This is prior to dam completion
1. Based on June 1970 survey
2. East Fullerton Creek Improvement, Fullerton Dam Analysis of Design, January 1940
3. Interim Rpt, Review of Design Features of Existing Dams, H&H Review, Prado, Brea, Fullerton & Salinas, November 1969
4. Fullerton Dam Water Control Manual, May 1989