Monday, June 07, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere and Nowhere to Store it

During water-rich times like this year, we despair again that there is not enough additional storage for when the year is not so water-rich.

Along with the obvious solution for our area, the building of Auburn Dam, which would double our storage capacity—now appears to be off the table though congressional action can restore it—there is another that would solve the water problems for the larger region and that is the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height of 200 feet higher than it now is, tripling its water supply, which an article from the Los Angeles Times describes:

1) An excerpt.

“From an engineering standpoint, it's a piece of cake. The dam, built between 1938 and 1945, was originally planned to be 200 feet taller. At 800 feet, it would have been the highest and biggest in the world.”

“Sheri Harral, public affairs officer at the dam, said World War II and materials shortages associated with the war effort led to a decision to stop construction at 602 feet.

"The thinking was to come back and add on to it if ever there was a need to," Harral said. "They started looking at raising it in 1978."

“If Shasta Dam had been built up to its engineering limit in 1945, it is arguable that Northern and Central California would not be facing a critical water shortage now.

“According to a 1999 Bureau of Reclamation study, a dam 200 feet taller would be able to triple storage to 13.89 million acre-feet of water.”

2) The Sacramento Bee notes the current water richness.

An excerpt.

“The snowpack is also unusually large due to numerous late-winter storms: 215 percent of normal statewide as of June 1, according to state Department of Water Resources data. …

“Water officials this week are keeping a close eye on Shasta Lake. The surrounding watershed holds a snowpack nearly four times larger than normal. Warm rain on top of this snow could boost runoff by 15 percent to 20 percent, Hartman said.

“As of May 28, the reservoir was just 1 percent short of its capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet, with that huge snowpack still waiting to melt.”