California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently sent a comment letter expressing opposition to plans to raise the Shasta Dam. The 21-page letter asserts the plans for raising the dam up to 18.5 feet are inadequate. Becerra notes that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) relies on an incomplete draft supplemental environmental impact statement. “Reclamation misapprehends and ignores the fundamental environmental protections that apply to its effort to raise Shasta Dam,” the letter states.
Reclamation has indicated that by raising the dam by three percent it would increase water storage capacity by 634,000 acre-feet. At issue is the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Public comment on the proposal was being accepted through October 5. Becerra said that Reclamation cannot move forward with the project under the Clean Water Act because Congress has not authorized it. Becerra also cites a lack of permitting from authorities such as the State Water Resources Control Board.
“The Trump Administration should stop tampering with California’s waters. BLM’s latest attempt to unlawfully raise the Shasta Dam is a poorly-cloaked move to evade the Clean Water Act,” Becerra said in a press release. “As long as Trump officials keep trying to skirt the rules, we’ll keep them honest.”
Reclamation set aside $8 million earlier in the year to move forward with preparations. The money was intended for preconstruction engineering and design work for raising the dam and enlarging the Shasta Reservoir. The Trump Administration had also requested construction funding in the federal budget to raise Shasta Dam back in June. The overall effort to raise the dam has experienced a significant amount of challenges.
Becerra has been active in his opposition to raising the dam. A lawsuit was filed against Westlands Water District for its efforts to support the project. Becerra asserted that Westlands was in violation of the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The water district was subsequently banned from participating in any activity that would facilitate the project moving forward.