Engineers Examine Dam’s Structure

Armed with new information about how structures respond to earthquakes, federal engineers are examining ways the Casitas Dam near Ojai might be bolstered.

Recent observations about the ways structures under stress move are at odds with certain widely accepted theories, said Steve Wickstrum, principal civil engineer with the Casitas Municipal Water District.

“We’ve determined new things, especially via the Northridge earthquake, that have turned a lot of structural engineers upside-down,” he said.

The Bureau of Reclamation expects to complete its report by late February. If modifications are recommended, the agency will hold public hearings as part of an environmental review.


The federally owned 39-year-old dam, which sits on the Red Mountain fault, is examined every eight years.

“This is a regular thing for us,” Wickstrum said. “They come out, bore holes and take a look at the sediment and structure of the dam. We also do regular monitoring of the dam.

“It’s like owning a car--you regularly check the oil and make sure everything is running fine,” Wickstrum said.