About the eel river dams
Since 1908 the Potter Valley Project has diverted water from the headwaters of the Eel River into the Russian River Basin. The Project consists of two dams, a mile-long diversion tunnel, and a small powerhouse with a 9.4 mw capacity.
Cape Horn Dam, the lower of the two, has a fish ladder, though concerns have been raised about its effectiveness. The larger Scott dam blocks fish migration to over 200 miles of coldwater habitat in the relatively high elevation Eel River headwaters located in Mendocino National Forest. Read the study >>
RETU and TU staff have been actively involved in working toward a collaborative two-basin solution which seeks the co-equal goals of improving fish passage and habitat on the Eel River and minimizing adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality, and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins. More about Congressman Huffman’s Ad Hoc Group >>
In early 2019, PG&E notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee that they would abandon the project, creating uncertainty and accelerating the timeline for diverse interests to work toward a viable solution. We are at a crossroads for how we manage water supplies and the health of the Eel River and Russian River ecosystems.
RETU continues to work hard toward the two-basin-solution, one that meets the water needs of humans and fish, with modern, scientifically based approaches. Though there is significant uncertainly now, we do know this much, no dam lasts forever. We can work toward collaborative, innovative solutions now that provide water security while helping to restore our ecosystems and fish before they are gone, or we can pass this problem on to future generations. Read a once in a lifetime chance to restore the Eel River >>
How you can help
Contact your county supervisors and tell them the only path forward for the Potter Valley Project is one that ensures fish passage and ecosystem heath are prioritized. Work is being done now to form a regional entity that will take over the project and operate it, or some form of it, into the future. The two-basin solution framework is a win-win scenario that can provide water security and restoration of wild salmon and steelhead. Elected officials need to hear from those of us that care about wild fish, free flowing rivers and functioning ecosystems, not just from those that support and benefit from the status quo. This is a once in a lifetime chance to make a monumental change in how we manage what was once one of the greatest steelhead and salmon rivers in California and the heart of the Redwood Empire.
Humboldt County joins CalTrout, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC), and Sonoma Water in planning agreement and submits Notice of Intent to FERC https://www.sonomawater.org/press-releases/potter-valley-noi
Coming together for the Potter Valley Project Sonoma West Article Read more >>
California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC) and Sonoma Water announced that they will be signing a project planning agreement looking at paths to relicense the Potter Valley Project.
Plan to acquire Potter Valley Project formally announced
PG&E Orphaned the Potter Valley Project: What’s Happened & What Comes Next?https://kymkemp.com/2019/03/10/pge-orphaned-the-potter-valley-project-whats-happened-what-comes-next/
Congressman Jared Huffman’s Ad Hoc Committee
PG&E decides to auction off the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project
NOAA Fisheries introduction to river habitat projects, including a case study of Eel River habitat restoration.
VIDEO: Benbow dam removal on South Fork of the Eel River - summer of 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP_f-DY3vvY
Check out the Friends of the Eel River description of the project and actions
Trout Unlimited National article on the Eel River coming back
Hydropower Reform Coalition Potter Valley detailed project description
How the Eel got its name, and efforts to piggyback on salmonid fish ladders for other species
Benbow Dam Removal: Second largest concrete structure to be removed to date in California: http://www.fishhabitat.org/waters-to-watch/detail/benbow-dam-removal-california