What is the ‘Two-Basin Solution’?

In 2017 when PG&E began relicensing the Potter Valley Project, Congressman Huffman convened a stakeholder group that agreed to work toward a ‘two-basin solution’ based on two ‘co-equal goals’. These goals broadly reflect desires to improve fish passage and habitat in the Eel River while avoiding adverse impacts to water supply reliability in the Russian River. Click here to learn about Congressman Huffman’s Ad Hoc group and their work.

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.

Minimize or avoid adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins.


How has FOER shifted our position
FOER used to take the position that the out-of-basin diversion needs to end. Since joining the stakeholder group two years ago we have changed our position to align with the goals of Congressman Huffman’s group. We have been working in good faith toward a ‘two-basin solution’ that meets both fisheries recovery and water supply goals.

How have water supply entities shifted position
Some haven’t. Some entities participating in Congressman Huffman’s stakeholder group continue to demand that Scott Dam remain in place. This is despite the years-long work of the fish passage technical working group, a committee from Congressman Huffman’s stakeholder group, which has compiled expert analysis of fish passage scenarios that show dam removal as the most feasible path to volitional fish passage*.

What about dam removal
We believe the two-basin solution is the quickest route to dam removal and thus the best option for the Eel’s salmon and steelhead. Given the legal requirements for fish passage and prohibitively expensive price tag, the serious concerns about dam safety and stability, and the financial reality of running a project that only earns roughly $1 for every $30 invested, it is highly likely that Scott dam is coming down. The two-basin solution could bring about that inevitability quicker and ensure that water managers on the southern side are still able to meet need even in dry years.

What you can do
If you live in Mendocino, Lake, or Sonoma counties please reach out to your elected representatives. Let them know that you support a two-basin solution that provides volitional fish passage in the Eel River and continued water diversions to the Russian River. Tell them that you support their efforts to reach a deal, and that you don’t want your dry-year water supply to be threatened by bad faith negotiations.

*The final report from the fish passage working group will be completed soon and available to the public. You can click here (SCWA) or here (PG&E) to see studies that estimate the cost of different fish passage options at Scott dam. The general consensus is that a fish ladder would be only marginally effective and cost at least $50 million dollars, likely as much as $100 million.