“This needs to be a wake-up call that this is happening sooner rather than later,” said Matt Doyle, general manager of Lake Shasta Caverns, at a recent meeting of Lakehead residents. The community meeting was scheduled to discuss the possibility of raising Shasta Dam and how that might displace many of the private property owners in the area.
The federal government has been fast tracking a controversial plan to raise the Shasta Dam, already the 8th highest dam in the country, by nearly two stories. The Bureau of Reclamation has sent geologists to dam in order to begin collecting data and will be seeking construction bids for the project in September 2019. All of this is being done using the $20 million allocated by the feds to develop the project.
The plan, aimed at increasing California water storage and helping central valley farmers, is predicted by officials to cost around $1.3 billion. Officials hope the construction would begin in 2020, with construction taking around 5 years to complete.
With scenes similar to Kennett, California in the early 1900’s, around 130 nearby residents will be forced to move if the project gets the go-ahead.
In the meeting of about 90 people in Lakehead on Monday night, residents were informed that the federal government would pay to either move residents and businesses to comparable properties or buy them out at fair market values.
One of the many concerns of the project is that property values have sunk since the dam heightening proposal gained steam, and residents are concerned that will effect the value they will get for their property. Bureau representatives claimed that appraisers would be required to offer prices for property that offset the impact the dam raise has had on values.
The proposal to raise the dam would not only impact private properties, but also public land that many locals, and Native American tribes, hold dear.
Raising the dam will completely alter Shasta Lake and the tributaries flowing in and out of the lake, including the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Waters Act. The plan will also fully submerge sacred Wintu Native American land.
The state of California has opposed the project, claiming there are better ways to get water to central valley farmers, like the Sites Reservoir. State officials also claim the project to be illegal, completely altering a river protected by the Wild and Scenic Waters Act.
In any event, the proposal will continue to push forward and the fight will wage on for years. But for now, Shasta Lake residents and businesses will plan for the worst, as their homes might become just like the old town of Kennett – submerged under Shasta Lake.