[env-trinity] Delta advocates: Shasta Dam raise is a 'massive waste of taxpayer money'

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Jan 30 13:21:07 PST 2015


Photo: The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies protest the plans to 
raise Shasta Dam and build the peripheral tunnels at the Shasta Dam 
overlook in September 2013. Photo by Dan Bacher.

Delta advocates: Shasta Dam raise is a 'massive waste of taxpayer money'

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s plan to build Tunnels 
that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, 
today called upon the California Water Commission to reject funding the 
raising of Shasta Dam.

A recent US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) report was highly critical 
of a proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam, the US Bureau of 
Reclamation’s main reservoir in the Central Valley Project northwest of 
Redding. The USFWS found that the project would harm fish habitat in the 
Delta and Yolo Bypass, as well as around Shasta Lake, and along the 
length of the Sacramento River.

“Combine enlarging Shasta with the Delta tunnels project, and you would 
have two effective ways to kill the Delta without solving California’s 
water problems,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. 
“There are better solutions, from recycling and storm water capture, to 
increasing household, industrial, and farm water use efficiencies.”

Reducing flood flows to the Delta could reduce the ability of Delta 
waters to dilute and assimilate contaminants and salts over the long 

“Enlarging Shasta Dam would be a massive waste of taxpayer money,” added 
RTD policy analyst Tim Stroshane. “The Bureau would get very little 
water for the sums they would spend. The Fish and Wildlife Service 
confirms it would be an ecological disaster as well.”

Raising Shasta Dam would decrease Sacramento River flood flows because 
its purpose would be to increase storage in Shasta Lake by “skimming” 
future floods. The Bureau’s preferred alternative would only yield 
another 47,300 acre-feet of supplies to California, at a total cost of 
over $1.3 billion. The water for that alternative might cost as much as 
$1,200 an acre-foot. (EWC comment letter, Table 2, 

Decreasing flood flows in the spring would affect Delta fish such as the 
Delta smelt, Sacramento splittail, and juvenile salmon. These fish 
depend on flood flows and different flow signals throughout the year to 
determine when and where they move to survive. In addition, enlarging 
Shasta Lake, say the federal biologists, would result “in an increase in 
Delta exports during critically dry water years which could increase the 
entrainment of Delta smelt and other fish species at the Jones and Banks 
pumping facilities.” (p. 166)

“A decrease in Sacramento River flood flows would reduce Bay-Delta 
flushing flows, affect Delta water quality, and affect Delta outflows” 
while likely increasing Delta exports, said the USFWS biologists. “All 
of these factors may further contribute” to declines of Delta smelt and 
other fish that live year-round in Delta waters, or migrate through the 
Delta to and from the Pacific Ocean. (p. 127)

“Neither the Bureau nor the California Department of Water Resources 
have looked at enlarging Shasta Dam and the Tunnels project in good 
faith,” said Stroshane. “In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service told the 
Bureau that only in the worst 10 percent of the time would salmon see 
any benefits from the project. When will the Bureau recognize it cannot 
make a silk purse from this sow’s ear?”

The biologists recommended that the Bureau should redo its no action 
alternative, evaluate how to increase salmon survival without enlarging 
Shasta Dam, and make changes to the enlargement alternatives, including 
revisiting ideas for mitigating fish impacts that the Bureau earlier had 

“Enlarging Shasta Dam is the very definition of a boondoggle,” said 
Barrigan-Parrilla. “A lot of money up front, a lot of environmental 
damage along the way, but only a little bit of water down the road for 
all that effort and heartache. Fortunately, there are better solutions.”

Source: US Bureau of Reclamation, Draft Plan Formulation Appendix, 
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation, California, June 2013, Tables 
5-9 and 5-10, pp. 5-110 and 5-111; and California Environmental Water 

Excerpted from EWC Comments on Shasta Raise DEIS, September 2013, online 
at http://ewccalifornia.org/reports/shastadeiscomments.pdf.

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: 
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at] restorethedelta.org; 
Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
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