Shasta Lake Nears Capacity; Water is Released from Shasta Dam Spillways

Shasta Dam spillways open for the first time in six years. Shasta Dam. Photo by Jon Lewis.

Shasta Dam spillways open for the first time in six years. Shasta Dam. Photo by Jon Lewis.

The Bureau of Reclamation has opened Shasta Dam’s spillways for the first time in six years. The bureau increased the release to about 36,000 CFS (cubic feet per second).

Photo by Jon Lewis.

Photo by Jon Lewis.

As of Thursday afternoon, the lake held 3.76 million acre-feet of water and was 28.43 feet from the crest. The inflow from melted snow and rain-swollen creeks and rivers was 56,861 CFS on Wednesday.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at
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4 Responses

  1. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Great to see.

  2. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    It’s  tricky prospect at best. I tip my hat to those hydrologists and engineers who try to second guess Mother Nature in balancing the inflow and outflow of the lake to maximize flood control. ‘Tain’t easy McGee!

  3. Avatar Robert Scheide says:

    The levels in Shasta are controlled by the Corp of Engineers to keep a hole to handle a big storm.  This last storm saw a max inflow of 100,000 cfs which is a lot but when I was operating Shasta I saw inflows as high as 200,000 cfs scary at best.  The problem is with inflows that high is that at the same time flows from other streams are so high you are forced to cut the releases from Shasta to protect the towns down river.

    This last storm as others like it point to the need of more offline storage to store this excess runoff, pump storage ponds makes good sense to me with the pumps being supplied by wind and solar.

    The folks at the dam deserve credit for managing a complex problem.



    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      What my Dad left out is there is apparently this “50 feet from the top” rule in the winter time where they let the water out, no matter what, cause it rains a lot here Feb-May, if the drought is truly off.