Shasta Lake Still Rising

I realize I’m not breaking news here, but it’s certainly nice to see Shasta Lake filling up as a result of a fairly robust winter.

As of this morning, the lake was 30.5 feet from the top. Yesterday’s depth at the dam was 486 feet, which is significantly up from last year on the same date — 435 feet.

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Bridge Bay Resort on Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday’s inflow into the lake was 7,755 cubic feet per second, the first time it has dropped under 8,000 cfs in more than a month. Yesterday’s outflow was 2,585 cfs, so the lake is still rising even amid these beautiful March days.

As the lake level rises, so do the smiles on faces of people whose livelihood is greatly improved by Shasta Lake filling up.

“When people hear that the lake is going to be full or close to it, that generates a lot of business,” said Bob Rollins, general manager at Bridge Bay Resort. “When the lake fills up, it gets a lot of people energized to come up and visit. Over the last month or so as the lake has risen, our traffic has almost doubled. We can see it in our restaurant revenue.”

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Bridge Bay Resort on March 12 of 2009. Photo courtesy Department of Water Resources.

Over the past two years, marinas around the lake have had to contend with both low lake levels (the lake has been down as far as 157 feet) and the struggling economy, which limits the amount of people renting houseboats or traveling to the lake in general.

Rollins and others predict that the lake could be 10 feet from the top by May 1. Some strong late March and April shower systems could really fill the lake up by mid May.

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Holiday Harbor on Tuesday afternoon.

There’s another factor to keep an eye on however — the levels on Trinity Lake and Lake Oroville. Low levels on those two reservoirs means Shasta will have to make up the difference with releases this summer for farmers in the Central Valley. When marina owners pray for rain north of Shasta Dam, they should probably also be praying for it in Trinity and Butte counties.

Both Trinity and Oroville are well off their average totals.

Still, it’s a better situation this year than it was at this time last year. And a few more good soakings sure wouldn’t hurt.

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is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com
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