With the prospect of raising Shasta Dam still being hotly debated, the Bureau of Reclamation is starting scientific studies toward that goal. Over the next several months geologists will be taking core samples on, around, and deep within the dam to see if the concrete and surrounding rock can handle the extra stress of raising the height by 18-and-a-half feet. The Bureau says that would increase the lake’s capacity by 630,000 acre-feet. They launched into the pre-construction and design phase of the dam-raising after Congress approved $20 Million for water infrastructure last March. At the recent congressional debate, Doug LaNalfa expressed support for the idea, while challenger Audrey Denney came out against it. Both are ardent supporters of the plan to create Sites Reservoir west of Williams. The Bureau is steaming ahead with raising the dam and expects to issue the first construction contracts by December of next year. The total cost is estimated at 1.4 Billion Dollars, but that’s according to a 4-year-old study, and it’s in 2014 Dollars.