Beautiful River, Growing Thirst, Looming Battle Over the Eel River


In the third-largest watershed in California, the Eel River rambles through some of the state’s most stunning landscape. Nothing about the river, with its clusters of redwoods along its sandy banks, hints at the looming battle over its blue-green water. In about three years, though, a federal commission will begin reviewing an application by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to re-license its Potter Valley Project. The project includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago. …

“There is nothing quite so bad as preventing the salmon and steelhead from gaining access to their spawning grounds,” Gordon Becker, a senior scientist with the Oakland-based Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, told me. “In some cases, political circumstances trump the fish habitat argument for removing a dam, at least for a while, and in those cases we try to do mitigation to leave the fisheries in the best condition we can.”

Article by: Susan Sward

Published: July 6, 2014

Published by: The Sacramento Bee

Read full article here.