US Army Corps of Engineers
Los Angeles District Website

Fact Sheet

Dam Safety Program

Fullerton Dam

Published July 26, 2012
Aerial view of Fullerton Dam

Aerial view of Fullerton Dam

Location and Description

Fullerton Dam is a single purpose flood risk reduction project located in the eastern part of the city of Fullerton just west of the 57 Freeway and Bastanchury Road crossing. It was specifically built for the purpose of flood risk management for the city of Fullerton and the adjacent, highly developed coastal plain area in Orange County.

Fullerton Dam, one of the units of the flood-control project for the San Gabriel River Basin and Orange County, Calif., was conceived under authorization of the Flood Control Act of 22 June 1936. Fullerton Dam is an element of the Santa Ana River Mainstem project.

Construction on the dam began in May 1940 and was completed in May 1941.

Dam Safety Issues

The primary objective of the Corps’ Dam Safety Program is to maintain public safety by making sure dams owned and operated by the Corps are safe, and the risks to the public are minimized. An integral part of the program is the risk-informed screening process. Dams are classified based upon confirmed or unconfirmed dam safety issues, the combination of life or economic consequences should failure occur and the probability of failure. This process enables us to prioritize dam safety actions to correct deficiencies, which include interim risk reduction measures to be undertaken while further investigations are conducted and remedial actions are implemented.

Current Status

Fullerton Dam received a Dam Safety Action Class IV, or DSAC IV, rating in September 2009 based on a Screening Portfolio Risk Analysis, or SPRA, completed in March 2009. A DSAC IV rating is given to dams that are inadequate with low risk such that the combination of life, economic or environmental consequences with a probability of failure is low, and the dam may not meet all essential USACE engineering guidelines.

Fullerton Dam received a DSAC IV rating because of the potential for:

§  Failure from seepage and piping along embankment and the outlet conduit.

As a result of Fullerton Dam’s DSAC IV rating, the Corps has implemented the following Interim Risk Reduction Measures, or IRRMs:

·        No action required

What’s next?

·        No action required

Public Safety is Number One Priority

Public safety is our number one priority. While we cannot completely eliminate risk, we can reduce it. Our screening and classification of Fullerton Dam does not mean that failure is taking place. It means we have identified dam safety issues that don’t meet industry standards and the risk to public safety is unacceptable. Routine inspections and operation of the dam will continue and emergency action plans have been developed in coordination with local emergency management officials. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest an emergency situation exists or is about to occur.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates 694 dams that serve a variety of purposes, including navigation, flood damage reduction, water supply, irrigation, hydropower, recreation, environmental enhancement and combinations of these purposes.  As part of our responsibility in managing these dams, the Corps has a comprehensive Dam Safety Program that has public safety as its primary objective. Corps dams are routinely inspected and continually evaluated for safety in compliance with the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety issued in 1979 and Engineering Regulation ER 1110-2-1156, Safety of Dams – Policy and Procedures.