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Battle Over Shasta

Apr 08, 2020

WATER LAW SYMPOSIUM: THE BATTLE OVER THE RAISING OF SHASTA DAM

One of the long-running controversies in California water is the effort to raise Shasta Dam, a dam on the Sacramento River in Northern California which creates a 4.5 MAF reservoir, the largest in California.  The dam provides long-term water storage, flood control, and hydroelectricity, and is a key storage facility for the Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project.  In the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation (SLWRI) final Feasibility Report and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed in 2015, the Bureau of Reclamation identified the alternative with the greatest level of benefit as the one that would raise the height of Shasta Dam 18.5-feet, increasing the water storage capabilities of the dam by about 13%

Enlarging the reservoir would improve water supply reliability, reduce flood damages, and improve water temperatures in the Sacramento River below the dam for anadromous fish survival.  However, raising the dam would also flood part of the McCloud River, a river designated as Wild and Scenic by the state legislature in 1989 and further inundate sacred sites and other tribal cultural resources important to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.  There are also ongoing uncertainties at Shasta Dam as to the dam raise, fish protection, and how the federal government will proceed and what actions farmers in the central and southern portions of California will pursue to secure necessary water supplies.

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