Tuesday, March 3, 2015

No water bond funds for the raising of Shasta Dam?

I've reported several times that the proposal to raise Shasta Dam has been identified as a potential recipient of funds under Proposition 1, the water bond that passed in November. But a legislative consultant tells me that spending bond funds on the dam wouldn't fly.

Tina Cannon Leahy, principal consultant for the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, emailed me last night:
It is a common misconception that Proposition 1 can be used to fund a raise of Shasta Dam. However, Section 79711(e) (“General Provisions”) of Prop. 1 states (emphasis added):
(e) Nothing in this division shall be construed to affect the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Chapter 1.4 (commencing with Section 5093.50) of Division 5 of the Public Resources Code) or the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1271 et seq.) and funds authorized pursuant to this division shall not be available for any project that could have an adverse effect on the values upon which a wild and scenic river or any other river is afforded protections pursuant to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act or the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Section 79751 of Prop. 1 (the “Storage” section) states (emphasis added):
79751. Projects for which the public benefits are eligible for funding under this chapter consist of only the following:
(a) Surface storage projects identified in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program Record of Decision, dated August 28, 2000, except for projects prohibited by Chapter 1.4 (commencing with Section 5093.50) of Division 5 of the Public Resources Code.
(b) Groundwater storage projects and groundwater contamination prevention or remediation projects that provide water storage benefits….
The California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which commences in the Public Resources Code at Section 5093.50, states:
5093.542. The Legislature finds and declares that the McCloud River possesses extraordinary resources in that it supports one of the finest wild trout fisheries in the state...
(c) Except for participation by the Department of Water Resources in studies involving the technical and economic feasibility of enlargement of Shasta Dam, no department or agency of the state shall assist or cooperate with, whether by loan, grant, license, or otherwise, any agency of the federal, state, or local government in the planning or construction of any dam, reservoir, diversion, or other water impoundment facility that could have an adverse effect on the free-flowing condition of the McCloud River, or on its wild trout fishery…
So, Proposition 1 actually precludes any of its funding being used for a raise of Shasta Dam.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been studying alternatives for the dam that include raising it as much as 18 feet, and the Winnemem-Wintu Tribe -- which opposes the project for cultural reasons -- was concerned enough that it held a ceremonial war dance last fall in the heart of the Proposition 1 campaign. However, the statutes are definitely something the California Water Commission would have to consider if a funding request for the dam project came its way.

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