[env-trinity] Redding.com: Feds won't pay to raise height of Shasta Dam
tstokely at att.net
Thu Jul 30 08:06:25 PDT 2015
Feds won't pay to raise height of Shasta Dam
7:38 PM, Jul 29, 20157:42 PM, Jul 29, 2015news | local news Copyright 2015 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.SHOW CAPTIONSHASTA COUNTY, California - The federal government will not pay the nearly $1.3 billion to raise the height of Shasta Dam up to 18 1/2 feet, according to a report released Wednesday on the feasibility of the project.While the final feasibility report says raising the height of the dam would be feasible, it stops short of recommending approval because of cost and financing issues.Typically, Congress approves up-front funding for projects such as raising the dam, and then the costs are repaid over 40 or 50 years by selling water and hydropower, but the report states that scenario is “unrealistic” in this case because of budget constraints.That means non-federal agencies, including the current water agencies that buy water from the bureau and the state, would be left to work out how to pay for the cost of raising the dam, said Erin Curtis, a spokeswoman for the bureau.While the final feasibility report and environmental assessment — also released Wednesday — include many changes since the draft versions were released in 2012, the question of how to pay for raising the dam overshadows all of them, Curtis said.“I would say that’s the most pressing issue because if you can’t fund it, the rest of it is moot,” Curtis said. “We still have work to do, obviously, when it comes to making a recommendation to Congress.”Some agricultural irrigation districts are interested in helping pay the cost of raising the dam, she said.“Current Central Valley Project water and power contractors, and other potential beneficiaries, are evaluating the project costs and benefits to determine their level of interest in providing construction cost shares. Westlands Water District has signed an agreement in principle to provide a cost share if Congress authorizes a project,” Curtis said.The state also could not participate in construction of the dam raise because of the McCloud River’s status as a protected wild trout stream, the report states. Raising the dam would flood several miles of the McCloud River above the lake, according to the report.Financing was also on Harold Jones’ mind when he heard about the new reports released Wednesday.With no official recommendation on the dam, the issue will probably linger for many more years, undercutting the value of his business, said Jones, who owns Sugarloaf Cottages Resort on Lake Shasta.The bureau has been studying raising the dam for at least the past 10 years, and the congressional authorization to conduct the environmental and feasibility studies date back to 1980.Jones said he needs to buy new air conditioners for his cabins, but he can’t get a loan because if the dam is raised he would have to close his business as parts of the resort would be under water when the lake is full.“What this means to me is they are just going to continue to financially crush us,” Jones said.The bureau has said that the numerous businesses that would be forced to move because of higher water would be bought out and compensated or the government would pay to move them to higher ground.A spokesman for U.S. Rep Doug LaMalfa said the congressman thinks raising the height of the dam could be a positive move for the North State, but he wanted to review the documents and ensure business owners and residents around Lake Shasta are compensated if they have to relocate or close.“Should this project move forward, I will work to ensure that those residents and businesses who could be affected are justly compensated and have an opportunity to relocate on the lake,” LaMalfa said in a press release.
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