White House, Congress side with Calif. growers to raise Shasta Dam

By Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle

WASHINGTON — Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.

The fight is over Shasta Dam, at 602 feet the fourth-tallest dam in California and the cornerstone of the federal Central Valley Project, which provides water to cities and farms throughout the state. One of its biggest customers is the Westlands Water District in the arid western San Joaquin Valley, which distributes water to numerous large farms.

With enthusiastic support from Westlands, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress want to raise the dam 18½ feet to store more water and guard against losing farmland to future droughts. Some farmers in the valley received no water at all from the Central Valley Project for two straight years during the five-year drought that ended with the winter of 2016-17.

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