Congressman Jared Huffman’s Ad Hoc Committee is collaboratively developing recommendations for the future of the Potter Valley Project to inform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process.
Principles for a Two-Basin Solution
Download PDF. We as interested parties in the Potter Valley Project Ad Hoc Committee are committed to joint problem solving and working toward an outcome of the PVP relicensing process that reflects the following goals and principles:
- 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; and
- Minimize or avoid adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins
- Respect tribal rights and their traditional connections to aquatic life, water and cultural resources in both basins
- Minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to Lake County, including Lake Pillsbury businesses and residents
- Ensure accountable governance and financially viable operations, including addressing potential liabilities
- Jointly pursue public funding based on environmental and water supply benefits
- Ensure that implementation of fish passage improvements in the Eel River basin happens in parallel and ideally simultaneously with water supply solutions in the Russian River basin
What is the Potter Valley Project and FERC relicensing?
The Potter Valley Project is a hydro-electricity project and includes two dams on the Eel River (Scott Dam and Cape Horn Dam), water diversion facilities, and a powerhouse. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) owns the Potter Valley Project. The project stores winter runoff from the upper Eel River basin and annually diverts an average of ~90,000 acre-feet of Eel River water into the Russian River to generate hydroelectric power. Scott Dam blocks Eel River migratory access to several hundred miles of habitat for Federally listed Chinook salmon, coho salmon, winter steelhead, and potentially summer steelhead.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates and permits hydro-electricity projects. PG&E’s current project license expires in April 2022, requiring a new license application by April 2020. In April 2017, PG&E notified FERC of its intent to renew its hydropower license. Then, in January 2019, PG&E withdrew the notice of intent and pre-application document (PAD) and discontinued the process to prepare a license application. At the same time, PG&E also terminated its efforts to sell the project.
Within the FERC relicensing process, state and federal agencies have “conditioning authority” over the FERC project license. Those conditions may include flow release requirements, fish passage conditions, monitoring requirements, or other conditions. Regulatory agency authority within the FERC process often constrains dialogue about the project and alternative outcomes to the FERC process.
What is the Huffman Ad Hoc Committee?
At the request of several entities, Congressman Jared Huffman has convened stakeholders in a process referred to as Congressman Jared Huffman’s Potter Valley Project Ad Hoc Committee, which complements the formal FERC relicensing process. The Committee has no formal authority, yet it also has no constraints – thereby enabling constructive dialogue among stakeholders and consideration of a broad range of scenarios for the future of the Potter Valley Project. At the request of Congressman Huffman, PG&E, Sonoma County Water Agency, and California Trout teamed to contract the Consensus Building Institute to provide impartial facilitation of the Ad Hoc Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee offers a promising venue for regional water planning alongside consideration of salmonid population recovery.
The Ad Hoc Committee identified two key topics that are fundamental to the Potter Valley Project: (1) fish passage above Scott Dam and (2) water supply options. At its January 2018 meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee formed two technical working groups to examine these issues in a focused manner. Since 2018, the Fish Passage and Water Supply Working Groups have examined these issues and have been reporting their findings to the full Ad Hoc Committee for consideration.
Ad Hoc meetings are for members only. Interested parties are welcome to reach out to John Driscoll at Congressman Jared Huffman’s Office (707) 407-3585 or other Ad Hoc members to share perspectives or learn more about the process. The Ad Hoc Committee will also post its meeting summaries and materials here.
Ad Hoc Committee Participants
|California Department of Fish and Wildlife||Pacific Gas & Electric|
|California Trout||Potter Valley Irrigation District|
|City of Ukiah||Round Valley Indian Tribes|
|Congressman Jared Huffman’s Office||Russian Riverkeeper|
|Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians||Sonoma County|
|Friends of the Eel River||Sonoma County Water Agency|
|Humboldt County||State Water Resources Control Board|
|Lake County||Trout Unlimited|
|Mendocino County||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
|National Marine Fisheries Service||U.S. Forest Service|
|Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association||Wiyot Tribe|
Fish Passage Working Group
The Fish Passage Working Group has been developing information and recommendations on fish passage for the Ad Hoc Committee. The Ad Hoc formed the working group to develop detailed technical information and work for the Ad Hoc’s consideration. The charge of the working group is to:
- Identify existing information and best available science
- Develop objectives for fish passage
- Identify viable solutions (near term, longer term)
The Fish Passage Working Group is meeting in 2018 and 2019 – view meeting schedule.
Water Supply Working Group
The Water Supply Working Group has been developing information and recommendations on water supply for the Ad Hoc Committee. The Ad Hoc formed the working group to develop and analyze detailed water supply scenarios and recommendations for managing water supply issues and concerns to inform the Ad Hoc’s discussions. The charge of the working group is to:
- Identify water supply issues on Eel and Russian Rivers
- Develop objectives for water supply
- Identify viable solutions (near term, longer term)
- Assess consequences, opportunities, and challenges of potential futures for the Potter Valley Project
The Water Supply Working Group is meeting in 2018 and 2019 – view meeting schedule.