[env-trinity] Order to stop Shasta Dam raising report upheld by appeals court

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Aug 30 09:17:11 PDT 2019


https://www.redding.com/story/news/2019/08/29/order-stop-shasta-dam-raising-report-upheld-appeals-court/2157768001/

Order to stop Shasta Dam raising report upheld by appeals court
Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight

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Damon Arthur | Redding

Damon Arthur Reporter I cover mostly outdoors stuff like resources, environment, recreation and rural issues.
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Published 5:27 p.m. PT Aug. 29, 2019

A state court of appeal has upheld a Shasta County Superior Court decision to stop a Fresno-based water district from doing an analysis of the effects of raising the height of Shasta Dam.
The Westlands Water District had asked the California Third District Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court's preliminary injunction that ordered the district to stop work on an environmental impact report.


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Water district appeals ruling to stop work on Shasta Dam analysis

An irrigation district has asked the state court of appeal to overturn a judge's decision to stop work assessing...
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The court of appeal also upheld the superior court decision to keep the case against Westlands in Shasta County. Westlands had wanted to move the case to Fresno County.


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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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Buy Photo
Workers did testing on Shasta Dam in 2018 to determine whether it could withstand having an additional 18 1/2 feet of concrete placed on the crest of the dam. (Photo: Damon Arthur/Record Searchlight)

A visiting judge ruled  last month in Shasta County Superior Court the district's work was illegal because no state or local agency can do any work — including planning — that would have an adverse impact on the McCloud River, given its designation as a wild and scenic river.


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Judge orders Westlands to stop work on Shasta Dam raise

A judge has ordered a Fresno-based water district to stop working on plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam.
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The state Attorney General's Office and several environmental groups argued in a lawsuit against the district that raising the height of the dam 18½ feet would harm the river because a taller dam would raise the lake level in some years and further inundate the McCloud River, which flows into Lake Shasta.

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In issuing the preliminary injunction, the judge agreed with many of the arguments made by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and environmental groups. The case is still set for trial next spring.


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Buy Photo
A view of Shasta Dam from the nearby overlook. (Photo: Damon Arthur/Record Searchlight)

The district's lawyer, Daniel O'Hanlon, said the district was not violating the law because it was preparing the report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

O'Hanlon said an environmental impact report is not "planning." He said the district wanted to complete the report to determine whether it wanted to help pay for the project.

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If the district, which primarily provides irrigation water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, can't work on the environmental report, it can't determine whether it can go forward to support the project. 

"The preliminary injunction is thus an attack on Westlands' decision-making process," the appeal says. "It is unprecedented for a court to order an agency to stop a CEQA review, before an agency has even been able to complete that review and make its decision."

The McCloud River, which flows into Lake Shasta, is at the center of a dispute over raising the height of Shasta Dam. (Photo: Contributed photo by Thomas O'Keefe)

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has long been interested in raising the height of the dam. In 2015 the agency completed a separate environmental assessment on raising the dam 18½ feet.

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Redding news roundup: Shasta Lake receives state funds designed to spur ...

News bites from around the North State in August 2019.
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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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