Surging Water Flows Could Bring Danger on the McCloud River

McCloud Dam spilling over. Photo: PG&E

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) has issued a warning regarding the potential surge in flows on the lower McCloud River. The increase is anticipated as a result of the melting winter snow and upcoming maintenance work on the James B. Black Powerhouse.

PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno stated that flows might rise by approximately 18 inches due to the seasonal snowmelt and the scheduled maintenance at the Powerhouse. The McCloud Dam is projected to start overflowing on Monday night, leading to an increase in the lower McCloud River’s flows from 900 to 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). This is a significant uptick from the typical flow of 450 cfs at this time of year.

Moreno urged those engaging in recreational activities near the river to exercise additional caution during this period of heightened flows.

Presently, only one of the two generators at the James B. Black Powerhouse is functional. This means less water is being diverted from the McCloud Reservoir to the Iron Canyon Reservoir, and then to the powerhouse on the Pit River, located near the rural town of Bend. The reduced diversion will cause the McCloud Reservoir to fill up, leading to excess water overflowing from the dam’s spillway into the lower McCloud River, which extends from the McCloud Dam to Lake Shasta, explained Moreno.

Moreno noted that the powerhouse is expected to resume full operations by May 31. Once the facility is back online, PG&E plans to gradually reduce the flows to the seasonal average of around 200 cfs from the dam, ensuring a return to regular conditions. This step-by-step approach will aid in safely managing the increased water flow caused by the winter snowmelt and the powerhouse’s maintenance, mitigating potential risks for the surrounding communities.

PG&E offered the following water safety tips:

  • Stay out of cold water. Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides, sub-surface obstacles, fast moving water, and transitions to full tunnels and pipes. For more water safety tips visit:

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