Shasta Dam Enlargement Still Possible

Larry De RidderAlerts, Rivers

In November 2017 two Washington State congressmen introduced HR 4419, named Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs Water Project Streamlining Act of 2017. Sometimes it’s hard to immediately ascertain exactly the purpose of proposed legislation. This time the name suggests something that all of us at times long for – accelerated government action on an issue. And in reading much of this, that is the stated purpose. However, if read in detail, toward the finale of the proposed Act are four specific projects that would be immediately affected. The fourth project listed is the proposed modification to Shasta Dam. On November 30, 2017 the Deputy Commissioner of the Interior made a presentation to the Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee for the Committee on Natural Resources, for the US House of Representatives. His summary includes:

“With respect to the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation, surface water storage projects are an important component of our Nation’s infrastructure that can create multiple benefits, including reliable water supplies, flood control, hydropower, and water quality improvements. In California, cost-effective surface water storage is a crucial component to addressing the growing demands on California water supplies. The Shasta Enlargement Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was transmitted to Congress in July 2015. The EIS identified a preferred alternative (Comprehensive Plan 4A). Reclamation continues to look for stakeholder partners to engage with us in cost-sharing and advancing this project. If such partners are identified, certain State and local issues are resolved, and Congress authorizes the project, then Reclamation is willing to work with those partners to advance the project.”

It seems a bit unusual that out-of-state congressmen are pushing to streamline a California project that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere at this time. For those who missed our previous discussions, more detail is included our Summer 2013 HASA newsletter  ( The most substantial issue appears to be that any California-based government or private partner in such a project is prohibited by State law. The feasibility study itself notes that “…it is our understanding there has been a determination that the PRC (Public Resources Code) protecting the McCloud River prohibits State participation in the planning or construction of enlarging Shasta Dam other than participating in technical or economic feasibility studies.” The proponents of raising the height of Shasta Dam also seem to be ignoring the fact that the reservoir expansion project is ineligible for California Water Bond funds. So, just where is the California-partner’s funding to come from? If you would be interested in a more detailed review, link to Friends of the River here

Given that efforts to divert more water from salmon spawning rivers are ongoing, we must remain alert for potential threats from all directions, or wild Pacific Salmon will go the way our wild Atlantic Salmon did in the southern part of their historic range. There simply are no more Atlantic Salmon in the southern portion of their range!