Armed with a roadside geology book and fun facts about some of the places we would pass along the way, I piled in the back of the van with a few of my fellow fellows and coworkers at the Delta Stewardship Council. Our destination: Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam is well outside of the legal boundary of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but we happily made the trek because of the valuable learning experience upstream in our watershed.
As we walked along the top of the dam, with a valley to our left, and the reservoir to our right, Mount Shasta peeked through the clouds.
We piled in the elevator, and I found my favorite set of elevator buttons I have encountered to date: In addition to floor number, each button was marked with its elevation. Our tour guide pressed the button marked “750,” and we descended 428 feet into the dam.
Inside the dam, our tour guide stopped us at the end of a long hallway, lined with tiles that were a shade of green of a bygone era. On her count of three, we clapped as a group and listened as our sound wave traveled down the hall and echoed back to us, a ‘zip pop!’ to my ear.
The grandeur of Shasta is clear when you step outside at the base. The dam itself looms. It seemed big before, but it now seemed to be a behemoth. Operations produce electricity, and the engineer in me marveled at the sheer amount of concrete reinforcement on the pipes that was needed combat the momentum of the water. The biologist in me watched as an osprey soared overhead. And now, well into my fellowship, I considered the policy challenges that try to balance the competing interests for California’s water.
Written by Annie Adelson