Potter Valley Project
Broad partnership to restore fish passage
About the Project
The Potter Valley Project is a 9.4-megawatt hydroelectric facility, more than 100 years old, that includes an interbasin transfer of approximately 62,500 acre-feet of water from the Eel River to the East Branch of the Russian River. This project is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and consists of two dams: Cape Horn Dam, a low diversion dam with a fish ladder that transfers water to the Russian River; and Scott Dam, located 12 miles above Cape Horn Dam. Scott Dam blocks migratory access for threatened populations of Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and winter steelhead to high-quality, cold-water habitat in the 288-square-mile watershed above it, within Mendocino National Forest.
Beginning in 2018, Congressman Jared Huffman convened stakeholders in an Ad Hoc Committee to advance a Two-Basin Solution for the future of the Potter Valley Project that would remove Scott Dam, restore fish passage, continue diversions to the Russian River during high winter flows through existing or modified infrastructure at Cape Horn Dam, and generate energy at the existing powerhouse. In 2019, prior to filing for bankruptcy, PG&E formally withdrew its application from the Potter Valley Project’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process, leaving an uncertain future for the project. In response, California Trout, Sonoma County Water Agency, Humboldt County, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, and the Round Valley Indian Tribes formed the Planning Agreement partnership (PA Partners) to collaboratively develop a plan for the future of the Project that advances the Two-Basin Solution and meets the needs of all communities in the Russian and Eel River basins. In May 2020, the PA Partners filed a proposed Project Plan with FERC to advance the Two-Basin Solution—with full removal of Scott Dam and modifications to Cape Horn Dam and the associated water diversions—to improve upstream and downstream fish passage while maintaining the interbasin water transfer and power generation.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
- Open 89 miles of high-quality, cold-water salmonid habitat in the 288-square-mile watershed above it, within Mendocino National Forest
- Enhance spawning and rearing habitat for fall-run Chinook and steelhead trout
- Deliver tangible solutions to an aging infrastructure challenge and provide reliable, alternative water supply for the region
- Restore the Eel River fishery that meets the traditional, cultural and subsistence needs of Native Tribes on the Eel River
- Increase water efficiency for the Potter Valley Irrigation District
- Work through the FERC process to achieve dam removal solutions and preserve energy resources
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
California Trout, Inc.
Congressman Jared Huffman
Friends of the Eel River
Native Fish Society
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Sonoma County Water Agency
Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission
Round Valley Indian Tribes