California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a comment letter on Monday, citing more reasons to oppose the Trump Administration’s effort to raise the Shasta Dam.
The Bureau of Reclamation has proposed 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—enough water to support two million people a year, according to Reclamation.
In February 2020, the Bureau set aside $8 million for preconstruction engineering and design work to raise the dam and enlarge the Shasta Reservoir. In June 2020, the Trump Administration requested construction funding in the federal budget to raise Shasta Dam.
“The Trump Administration is committed to delivering reliable water to Californians and throughout the West, and long overdue investments need to be made in California’s aging infrastructure to meet current demands,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman when making the proposal. “California simply does not have enough carryover storage, and this is a strategic project that is smart, cost-effective and an environmentally sound investment for California.”
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The Bureau sought public input on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in an August notice. Comments were due by close of business on Oct. 5.
In his letter, Becerra argues that the Reclamation proposal relies on an incomplete draft supplemental environmental impact statement. Raising the level of the Shasta Dam poses significant adverse effects on the free-flowing condition of the McCloud River and on its wild trout fishery. This effort would have a significant negative impact on the river’s fisheries and habitats, and submerge sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Native American Tribe.
“The Trump Administration should stop tampering with California’s waters. (The Bureau of Land Management's) latest attempt to unlawfully raise the Shasta Dam is a poorly-cloaked move to evade the Clean Water Act,” said Attorney General Becerra. “As long as Trump officials keep trying to skirt the rules, we’ll keep them honest.”
Last year, Attorney General Becerra defeated an attempt by Westlands Water District to push forward the Bureau's proposal to raise Shasta Dam. Today’s comment letter continues the California Department of Justice’s efforts to prevent this harmful proposal from moving forward.
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