[env-trinity] Judge delays ruling to stop Shasta Dam study

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Tue Jul 30 14:30:39 PDT 2019


Judge delays ruling to stop Shasta Dam study


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Judge delays ruling to stop Shasta Dam study

A judge on Monday backed off a decision to stop a Fresno-based water district from going forward with a study on...
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Judge delays ruling to stop Shasta Dam study
Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight
A judge on Monday backed off a decision to stop a Fresno-based water district from going forward with a study on whether to raise the height of Shasta Dam.

The judge had issued a tentative ruling that would have forced the Westlands Water District to stop work on an environmental impact report assessing the impacts of raising the height of the dam.

However, after listening to arguments in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday from the district and the state Attorney General's Office, the judge said he would issue a final statement within 48 hours.

The judge, Dennis Buckley, at times appeared flummoxed about how to proceed on the issue, at one point closing his eyes and putting his head in his hands.

Westlands has told the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Shasta Dam, that it is interested in helping pay for the cost of raising the height of the dam 18½ feet.
Buy Photo
File - In March 2019, the Bureau of Reclamation has increased the amount of water coming out of the dam to 30,000 cubic-feet per second. (Photo: Damon Arthur/Record Searchlight)

But the state attorney general and several environmental groups sued Westlands, claiming that doing so would violate state law. Raising the height of the dam would inundate a portion of the McCloud River, which is protected under state law.

RELATED: Judge rejects effort to move Shasta Dam lawsuit to Fresno


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Judge rejects effort to move Shasta Dam lawsuit to Fresno

Westlands Water District, based in Fresno, wanted to move the lawsuit against it to Fresno County, but a judge h...
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RELATED: After AG sues, Westlands Water District says it's studying whether to support Shasta Dam raise


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After AG sues, Westlands Water District says it's studying whether to su...

Citing the state's Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the California attorney general and several groups have sued to s...
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State officials argued that a state law prohibits state agencies from participating in studies or planning for any project that would harm the McCloud River. Writing an environmental impact report would require participation from several state agencies, said Russell Hildreth, an attorney for the state.
Buy Photo
File - In March 2019, four of the five turbines below Shasta Dam were turning, creating electricity. (Photo: Damon Arthur/Record Searchlight)

But Daniel O'Hanlon, an attorney for Westlands, said the irrigation district has not decided whether to go forward with the project. The district wants to complete the study to determine whether it wants to help pay the $1.4 billion cost to raise the height of the dam.

The bureau's 2015 environmental study of the proposed dam raise concluded raising the height of the dam would raise the lake level about 20 feet when full, and inundate about a third of a mile of the McCloud River.

The bureau has said it needs local and state partners to pay for half the cost of the dam. It has also said it plans to issue the first construction contracts later this year.

The amount of water coming out of Shasta Dam has been increased to 30,000 cubic-feet per second.Damon Arthur, Record Searchlight

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Shasta County reports first positive West Nile virus mosquito sample

The sample was taken in the west Cottonwood area.
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Damon Arthur is the Record Searchlight’s resources and environment reporter. He is among the first on the scene at breaking news incidents, reporting real time on Twitter at @damonarthur_RS. Damon is part of a dedicated team of journalists who investigate wrongdoing and find the unheard voices to tell the stories of the North State. He welcomes story tips at 530-225-8226 and damon.arthur at redding.com. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!

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Damon Arthur (@damonarthur_RS) | Twitter

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