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Imperial Dam
Imperial Dam
Official name Imperial Diversion Dam
Impounds Colorado River
Locale Lower Colorado River Valley
Imperial County, California
Yuma County, Arizona
Length 3,475 ft (1,059 m)
Height 85 ft (26 m)
Width (at base) 76 ft (23 m)
Construction began 1936
Opening date 1938
Reservoir information
Creates Imperial Reservoir
Capacity 160,000 acre·ft (200,000 dam³)
Catchment area 5,756 acres (2,329 ha)
Surface area 10.9 m2 (117 sq ft)
Geographical Data
Coordinates 32°52′59″N 114°27′54″W / 32.883056°N 114.465°W / 32.883056; -114.465Coordinates: 32°52′59″N 114°27′54″W / 32.883056°N 114.465°W / 32.883056; -114.465
Maintained by Bureau of Reclamation

The Imperial Diversion Dam is a concrete slab and buttress, ogee weir structure across the California/Arizona border, 18 miles (29 km) northeast of Yuma. Completed in the 1938, the dam retains the waters of the Colorado River into the Imperial Reservoir before desilting and diversion into the All-American Canal, the Gila River, and the Yuma project aqueduct. Between 1932 and 1940, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) relied on the Inter-California and Imperial Canals (Alamo river).


The Imperial Dam was built with three sections; the gates of each section hold back the water to help divert the water towards the desilting plant. Three giant desilting basins and seventy-two 770 ft (230 m) scrapers hold and desilt the water; the removed silt is carried away by six sludge-pipes running under the Colorado River that dump the sediment into the California sluiceway, which returns the silt to the Colorado River. The water is now directed back towards one of the three sections which divert the water into one of the three channels. About 90% of the volume of the Colorado River is diverted into the canals at this local. Diversions can near 40,000 cubic feet (1,100 m3) per second, roughly the volume of the Susquehanna River and more than 50 times the natural volume of the Rio Grande.

The Gila River and the Yuma project aqueduct branch off towards Arizona while the All-American canal branches southwards for 37 miles (60 km) before reaching its headworks on the California border and bends west towards the Imperial Valley.

Though the All-American canal moves billions of gallons of water into Imperial Valley every year, millions of it are lost to seepage. IID and Mexican authorities are debating on whether or not to line the All-American canal with concrete. The Mexican authorities are opposed to the All-American canal lining project, as the leaking water allows Mexican farmers to irrigate their crops with well-water.


of the Interior. Retrieved 2009-09-22.  

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