Shasta River Water Association

Shasta River Water Association Dam Removal and Water Conservation Project

Project Summary

This project included the removal of an agricultural flashboard dam from the Shasta River to insure fish passage and improve water quality while at the same time providing irrigators with continued water use for irrigation purposes.


During the irrigation season landowners would utilize these flashboard dams as a way to pond river water high enough to be diverted by irrigation pumps. The installation of these seasonally used dams unfortunately would prohibit the upstream and downstream movement of juvenile salmonids seeking cold water refuge during the hot summer months. In addition, the ponding caused by these dams would create poor water quality conditions that result in elevated water temperatures and increased aquatic plant growth which consume valuable water oxygen (or dissolved oxygen) that is otherwise utilized by fish.

The Solution:

Recognizing early on that the removal of this dam and others in the watershed would not be possible without absolute buy-in and support from the local community and owners and operators of the dams, the Shasta Valley RCD and Shasta River CRMP began working closely with landowners on designing a system that would not only meet their irrigation needs but would also Installing fish screen panels and brush arms Boulder Riffle-shortly after construction. Revegetation efforts have not yet occurred. Ponding of water behind the dam and build-up of aquatic vegetation. address the fish passage and water quality concerns. After 9 long years of planning and fund raising this project was completed in March 2009. and designs the project was completed this Winter, 2009. From start to finish the project took 9 years to arrive at construction.


Project Construction began the summer of 2008 and included a multi-faceted approach toward restoration project planning and implementation. The following components were implemented in order to make this project a win-win for both ranchers, regulatory agencies and fish.

Removal of the flashboard dam…

and installation of two boulder riffles that meet NOAA and CDFG fish passage criteria. These riffles allow for year-around fish passage for both juvenile and adult salmonids.

Removal of the dam…

reduced the length of impounded water from around ¬Ĺ river miles to ~400 feet. This will hopefully improve water quality conditions downstream in the Shasta River.

Installation of a self-cleaning fish screen…

that screens four irrigation diversions and prevents fish from being harmed by pumps.

Construction of a new pump station and installation of pumps…

for the irrigation district that will allow the district to pump only the amount of water needed by stakeholders. These variable frequency drive pumps allow the irrigation district to ramp pumps up and/or down depending on water user needs and will encourage water use efficiency for stakeholders.

Phase 1 to improving efficiency of distribution ditches.

This multi-phase effort will allow the irrigation district in the future to bill stakeholders by the amount of water used instead of the traditional flat-rate-fee. Phase 1 of this effort included the installation of ~4,000 feet of pipe along the leakiest portion of the earthen irrigation distribution ditches. Future efforts will continue with distribution ditch upgrades and will work with the irrigation district on arriving at a fee schedule that can be agreed upon by stakeholders.


This multi-million dollar and multi-year project would not have been possible without the help from our partners. The following are a list of project partners that were instrumental in seeing this project Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District:

  • Shasta River Water Association
  • California Department of Fish and Game
  • California North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • California State Water Quality Control Board
  • National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • the County of Siskiyou
  • the County of Humboldt
  • the Sandahl Ranch
  • Gabe Bridwell
  • the Kuck Ranch
  • the Rizzardo Ranch
  • the Banhart Ranch
  • the Rice Ranch
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Forsgren Associates
  • Marrone Construction
  • Timberworks

In addition to getting direct landowner support for this project the Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District has received numerous Letters of Support from Federal, State and Local Agencies, Environmental Organizations, and U.S. Senator Wally Herger.