Lake Shasta rises 118 feet, now nearly 30 feet from the top as California storms roll in

The water level on Lake Shasta has gone up more than 100 feet since Dec. 1, 2022. This is a picture of the back of Shasta Dam on Monday, March 20, 2023.
The water level on Lake Shasta has gone up more than 100 feet since Dec. 1, 2022. This is a picture of the back of Shasta Dam on Monday, March 20, 2023.

March has delivered.

The steady stream of storms this month has brought the water level at Lake Shasta a mere 31 feet from the top.

That’s good news for Redding and North State residents who depend on the state’s largest reservoir for their water needs.

The lake has gone up 9 feet over the past week as Shasta Dam has received about 4 inches of rain during that time, said Don Bader, area manager of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there was 3.7 million acre feet of water in Lake Shasta, which means the lake is 82% full. When full, the lake holds 4.5 million acre feet.

The lake has gone up 118 feet since Dec. 1.

Bader is still optimistic that the Bureau of Reclamation will not have to start releasing more water through Shasta Dam this spring to manage flood risk.

Related: As Lake Shasta rises 111 feet to fill to historic level, is California's drought over?

“We are 250,000 acre feet below having to go into flood ops,” Bader said.

“With this late in the season and storm events less likely to be severe, we will probably be staying under flood ops,” he added.

Bader expects the lake to continue to rise and expects Shasta to be near full by late spring.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which controls water allocations to numerous agencies in Northern California, announced in late February that junior water rights holders, which comprise several water districts in Shasta County and the city of Shasta Lake, would get 75% of their allotments.

Those allocations have gone up to 100%, Bader said.

It was already announced that senior water rights holders such as the city of Redding and Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District would get 100% of their largest contracts with the bureau.

A year ago, many agencies had their allocations cut to zero, and even the most senior water rights holders ― such as Redding and A.C.I.D. ― had their rations cut to 18%. Cutbacks were so severe in 2022 that for the first time in 106 years, A.C.I.D. did not deliver water to its customers.

Meanwhile, Bader still expects the Bureau of Reclamation to start increasing flows from Shasta Dam to agriculture users in late April.

“They normally start April 1. We can certainly delay that now because all of the fields are so wet down there,” Bader said. “Big ag users will start delaying their diversions, which means (Lake) Shasta will creep up even further this spring.”

David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly "Buzz on the Street" column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-338-8323. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Lake Shasta rises 118 feet, at 82% capacity as Calif. storms hit area