THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SANTA FE DAM RECREATION AREA
Santa Fe Dam impounds water that is collected by the San Gabriel River from the San Gabriel Mountains. The water is either distributed back to the San Gabriel River and then flows to Whittier Narrows Dam and eventually into the Pacific Ocean at Seal Beach or is shunted via Peck Pit to the Rio Hondo which flows into the Los Angeles River and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach.
"The San Gabriel River water conservation system begins in the San Gabriel Mountains with the capture of storm runoff and snow melt in the reservoirs of Cogswell, San Gabriel, and Morris Dams. Water released through valves or passing over spillways when the reservoirs are full can be diverted at the mouth of the canyon to the San Gabriel Canyon Spreading Grounds or can continue downstream in the unlined San Gabriel River toward the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Santa Fe Dam. In the upper portion of the Santa Fe Reservoir is the Santa Fe Reservoir Spreading Grounds. Releases from Santa Fe Dam can be spread in the unlined San Gabriel River downstream with large flows continuing to Whittier Narrows Dam. Water can also be diverted just below Santa Fe Dam and routed via Sawpit Wash to Peck Road Spreading Basin and the beginning of the Rio Hondo water conservation system ... "
This excellent site maintained by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works describes the rivers and the dams on it. Some highlights are:
"Santa Fe Dam and Reservoir is a flood control project constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District. Construction of the project started in August 1941, but temporarily interrupted in 1943 in deference to military work. Construction resumed in 1946, and the embankment and the spillway were completed in February 1947. Installation of the slide gates was delayed by post-war metal shortages until January 1949. The project is located on the San Gabriel River about 4 miles downstream from the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon ..."
More from Background and Physical Data from Army Corps of Engineers
Web Page by Jane Strong for CNPS-SGM, April, 2004