Bradbury Dam

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Bradbury Dam
Bradbury Dam is located in California
Bradbury Dam
Location of Bradbury Dam in California
CountryUnited States
LocationSanta Barbara County, California
Coordinates34°34′58″N 119°58′50″W / 34.58278°N 119.98056°W / 34.58278; -119.98056Coordinates: 34°34′58″N 119°58′50″W / 34.58278°N 119.98056°W / 34.58278; -119.98056
Construction began1950
Opening date1953
Owner(s)U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Dam and spillways
Type of damearthfill
ImpoundsSanta Ynez River
Height279 ft (85 m)
Length2,850 ft (870 m)
Elevation at crest766 ft (233 m)
Dam volume6,695,000 cu yd (5,119,000 m3)
SpillwaysGate-controlled concrete chute
Spillway capacity161,000 cu ft/s (4,600 m3/s)
CreatesLake Cachuma
Total capacity205,000 acre⋅ft (253,000,000 m3)
Catchment area417 sq mi (1,080 km2)
Surface area3,250 acres (1,320 ha)
Normal elevation750 ft (230 m)
Power Station
Hydraulic head206 ft (63 m)
Installed capacityNone

Bradbury Dam is an earthen dam across the Santa Ynez River in central Santa Barbara County, California. The dam forms Lake Cachuma, which provides the majority of water supplies within the county.

Although the Santa Ynez can reach massive flows in the winter, it usually dries up for several months of the year in the summer. A large storage facility to catch winter floodwaters for use in the summer and autumn was desperately needed by the growing population of the region, especially that of south coast cities like Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. Even before Bradbury Dam was considered, the Gibraltar Dam was built upstream to divert water through a tunnel to the city of Santa Barbara. However, that dam was plagued by siltation and was unable to fully serve the water requirements of the city.[1]

Construction on Bradbury Dam started in 1950 as part of a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation scheme called the Cachuma Project, intended to provide long-term water storage and delivery to Santa Barbara and other cities throughout the region as well as provide water for irrigation. Originally named the Cachuma Dam, it was completed in 1953; the name was later changed to honor a local water supply proponent.[2]

The dedication plaque for Bradbury Dam, to C. W. "Brad" Bradbury, at the vista point off California State Route 154, with the dam in the background

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Latousek, Thomas A. (1995). "Cachuma Project History" (PDF). Bureau of Reclamation History Program. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  2. ^ "Cachuma Project". U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 2011-04-18. Retrieved 2011-08-02.