Say No to Shasta Dam Raise, Again

Photo: Mike Wier

The issue of raising Shasta Dam has recirculated, and once again CalTrout remains fervently opposed to raising Shasta Dam and we need your help to stop it. This project is a bad idea for fish, water, and people.

Construction of this water storage project in California would permanently alter the McCloud River, a designated California Wild and Scenic River, violate state law, and destroy Native American sacred sites. Because this project would be both economically and environmentally harmful, we ask our members to tell the Bureau of Reclamation to oppose raising Shasta Dam.

Please send a letter today to the Bureau of Reclamation and tell them you oppose this plan. The comment period closes on October 5th.

Let’s debunk the arguments in favor:

“By raising the 600-foot-tall Shasta Dam by 3% or an additional 18.5 feet, the proposed project would increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet or more than 200 billion gallons”

Our response: The actual yield of additional water from an enlarged reservoir is uncertain. As proposed, the 18.5 foot raise would cost $1.3 billion and increase storage by 13%. But that is only under years when the reservoir actually fills. The potential storage doesn’t justify the exorbitant cost AND 100% of that cost will be paid by federal taxpayers.

“The dedicated environmental storage from the dam raise would improve water quality in the Sacramento River below the dam by lowering water temperatures for anadromous fish survival, such as Chinook salmon and other fish that migrate from the ocean to rivers to spawn.”

Our response: We don’t buy it. The United States Fish and Wildlife has strongly questioned the Bureau’s claim. The USFWS also noted that “improving the dam’s existing temperature control device, restoring downstream spawning gravel, increasing access to historic floodplain habitat, improving fish passage on tributaries, increasing minimum flows, and screening water diversions all increase salmon survival more than the dam raise.” We agree!

“This is a strategic project that is smart, cost-effective and an environmentally sound investment for California.”

Our response: Existing public information on the project suspiciously omits a clear description of how newly available water would be allocated, sold, and ultimately delivered throughout the state. Why should taxpayers cover the $1.3 billion-dollar expense when the project (1) primarily benefits wealthy water districts in Fresno (2) generates average deliveries of just 51,300 acre-feet, and (3) only delivers water on average 1 out of every 5 years.

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