Mud Creek flooding is threatening McCloud's water supply

Shareen Strauss
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers
McCloud Community Services District is digging out Mud Creek as flooding has caused over 20 feet of mud buildup that is threatening the town's Elk Spring pipeline that is suspended above the creek. If they lose this pipeline, the community will not have enough sustainable water.

The flooding of Mud Creek is causing some problems for the unincorporated town of McCloud.

The McCloud Community Services District is trying to save its Elk Spring Pipeline, that crosses over Mud Creek which has been flooding since June 27.

Mud has been building up under the pipeline from the continued flooding and is also threatening one of the town's three springs that supplies the town with its water. The newly constructed bridge on Pilgrim Creek Road has less than a foot of clearance from the mud build-up underneath and is a concern as well. 

More:Mud Creek overflow: Hot temperatures send mud, boulders down Mt. Shasta's slopes

The pipeline that is suspended above the creek had 20 feet of clearance over Mud Creek and 15 feet above the area around the creek bed. There is now only three feet of clearance.

The pipe itself was built from World War II surplus spiral weld steel and the cable and supports that were built in 1948 can not hold the new material of ductile iron, which is what it must be reconstructed with

McCloud Public Works Supervisor Richie Fesler said it all will have to be replaced in the future, but right now his priority is excavating the mud and saving the Elk Spring pipeline.

"The extreme heat wave in July with temperatures in the 90s and 100s is melting the glaciers at a fast rate causing the flooding and the mud events," said Fesler. The weekend before last, the channel shifted after being filled in with mud and was threatening Lower Elk Springs," said Fesler, who has been monitoring the flooding under the pipeline daily.  

Intake Springs produces 1,100 gallons per minute GPM and Upper and Lower Elk Spring together produce 1,600 GPM. The town won't have enough water if they lose the Lower Elk Springs pipeline, Fesler said. 

More:Water diversions: hard times getting harder for life on the Shasta and Scott rivers

"We are barely keeping up with the town's water demands now. One fire hydrant fully open uses about 1,500 GPM. We are already rationing water. We may have to turn off all outside water if our springs continue to decrease in production," Fesler added.

The McCloud Community Services District rented an excavator for a month but are planning on two weeks of work to dig out a clearance of 15 feet and use the mud to build up the sides of the creek bed 100 yards in both directions above and below the pipeline. It is expected that there will be daily maintenance to keep the channel open. 

The MCSD has contacted the Office of Emergency Services for financial assistance as this project has been authorized for only $30,000.  

More:How prepared is California for 2021’s drought? State running out of water, time

"We know that there is a big possibility that we will get another blowout and it can wipe out all that we've done," said Fesler.

Due to the excessive melting of the glacier, all creeks in the Mount Shasta area, including Ash Creek, Whitney Creek on Highway 97, Mud Creek and Brewer Creek, are having mud flow events with liquefied mud.