The Solano Project is a federal project with the Bureau of Reclamation that stores water in Lake Berryessa for delivery to users throughout the region. The idea for the development of the Solano Project was conceived in the 1940’s and 1950’s to meet the water demands of agriculture, municipalities and military facilities within Solano County. As agriculture developed in the County, use of groundwater increased substantially. Groundwater overdraft persisted in several parts of the County. This overdraft condition provided the impetus for a surface water supply to offset the overdraft. The population of Solano County in the 40’s and 50’s was also expected to grow; however, planners at that time had no way of knowing that the urban population growth in Solano County would increase as dramatically as it has over the past three decades.
During the planning of the Solano Project, Napa County and Yolo County were asked if they wished to participate in a larger Solano Project. Napa and Yolo declined, so the Solano Project was sized to meet only the projected water needs of Solano County. Congressional authorization was granted for the construction of the Solano Project and the first water was delivered in 1959. The total construction cost for the Solano Project was $38 million. For a more detailed history of the Solano Project, see the book by the Solano Irrigation District entitled “The Solano Water Story: A History of the Solano Irrigation District and the Solano Project.”
Monticello Dam was constructed from 1953 to 1957 and has a height of 304 feet and a crest length of 1023 feet. The dam is able to hold a capacity of 1.55 million acre-feet of water. (For reference, two households use 1 acre-foot of water a year.)