Stanford removes Lagunita Diversion Dam

The university’s Lagunita Diversion Dam project also restored natural creek habitat and improved fish passage in San Francisquito Creek.

Stanford recently completed removal of the Lagunita Diversion Dam and restoration of a 480-foot stretch of San Francisquito Creek to a natural state, fulfilling another creek habitat-enhancing project in the San Francisquito Creek watershed.

Environmental benefits of the project include the enhancement of fish passage and restoration of habitat at the site for fish that spawn in the creek. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

The dam, which had been located on Stanford land just above the academic campus, was constructed in the early 1900s and, over the years, supplied water to the campus. The facility consisted of a dam, fish ladder and a channel that parallels the creek and extends across Junipero Serra Boulevard to Lagunita.

In the 1950s, the California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG) installed a fish ladder with fish screens in front of the intake structure, which has since undergone various modifications by both CDFG and Stanford.

After several years of discussions and planning with agencies and the community, Stanford obtained permission from the federal and state resource agencies as well as Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties last year to remove the dam and fish ladder and restore the creek channel.

The location of the Lagunita Diversion Dam removal and habitat restoration project. (Image credit: AECOM)

Construction began in mid-June 2018 to remove the eight-foot-tall concrete structure and took five months to complete. Features of the creek channel restoration include large rock boulders, logs and crib walls, creating a combination of pools and riffles patterned after those naturally occurring elsewhere in the creek.

"With this project, we’ve restored the whole creek system in the area where the Lagunita Diversion Dam was located," said Tom Zigterman, director of water resources and civil infrastructure. "Looking ahead, we have a 10-year monitoring plan to keep an eye on the improvements that were constructed at the site and make sure the structural components and vegetation remain in place."

One immediate environmental benefit of the project is the enhancement of fish passage and restoration of habitat at the site for fish that spawn in the creek, which can now move more freely through the area.

The project was funded in part by a $1.2 million grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly CDFG).

Go to the web site to

Learn more about the project to remove the Lagunita Diversion Dam and restore the creek habitat in the area to its natural state.


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