Potter Valley Project, Feasibility Study

Project Goals

The purpose of the project is to help restore the upper Eel River, which has been impacted by cannabis cultivation. The project will also help protect regional water supplies in the Potter Valley and Russian River. Another purpose is to open over 288 square miles of salmon and steelhead habitat in the Eel River watershed by removing physical barriers to migration. This project is a part of a series of technical analyses developed collaboratively with Sonoma Water, Humboldt County, Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission, CalTrout, and the Round Valley Indian Tribe (Planning Agreement Parties) and includes a Two-Basin Solution.

Prompted by the collaborative discussions and progress of Congressman Jared Huffman’s Ad Hoc Committee, on May 14, 2019, the Planning Agreement Parties entered into a planning agreement (Planning Agreement) in the interest of continuing collaborative efforts towards a Two-Basin Solution that protects fisheries and water supply in both the Eel and Russian River Watersheds. The Planning Agreement Parties support exploration of terms for a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license that will materially benefit both Basins by advancing the following objectives (Shared Objectives): 

  1. minimize or avoid adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality, and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins; 
  2. improve fish passage and habitat on the Eel River sufficient to support recovery of naturally reproducing, self-sustaining, and harvestable native anadromous fish populations, including migratory access upstream and downstream at current project dam locations; 
  3. reliance on best available science and engineering analyses as the basis for evaluating options for restoration, water delivery, and hydroelectric pursuant to a new FERC license; 
  4. collaboration of funding; 
  5. active participation of tribes and other stakeholders who are willing to support the Shared Objectives; 
  6. economic welfare of both basins; 
  7. continued hydroelectric generation; and 
  8. protecting tribal cultural, economic, and other interests in both the Eel and Russian River Basins.

Image of Scott Dam on the Eel River.
Aerial image of Scott Dam on the Eel River. Photo courtesy of California Trout, Inc. and Mike Wier.