We’d really appreciate your help with a little project we’ve been working on: SCOTT DAM REMOVAL!!!
As Friends of the Eel River has been arguing for decades, removal of Scott Dam is the most important thing we can do to give imperiled Eel River salmon and steelhead — especially critically endangered summer steelhead — the chance to recover. You can help make Scott Dam removal a reality by writing your own brief comments today.
On Weds, May 13, a coalition of five Russian River and Eel River interests, the Two Basin Partnership, filed a “Feasibility Study Report” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Two Basin Partnership is trying to take over relicensing of the Potter Valley Project from PG&E. The project includes Scott and Cape Horn Dams on the Eel, as well as the diversion works, tunnels, and penstocks which carry Eel River water to the Potter Valley powerhouse and the Russian River.
By far the most important thing about the filing was its project description, which calls for removal of Scott Dam. The recognition that no one can afford to keep Scott Dam standing is a watershed moment. It means Eel River’s salmon and steelhead should soon return to hundreds of stream miles of habitat in the upper watershed.
The Two Basin Partnership grew out of the ad hoc working group convened by Rep. Jared Huffman around the co-equal goals of securing fish passage on the Eel River and limiting impacts to Russian River water supplies. FOER remains committed to those two basin principles and the hope of a true win-win solution for the Eel and the Russian Rivers. The Report is a significant step in the right direction, and the plan it presents is our best hope of securing Scott Dam removal in the near term.
We are comfortable that shifting the diversion of about 65 thousand acre-feet from the summer to the wet season will do no ecological harm to the Eel. Sonoma Water is confident that amount will give the Lake Mendocino reservoir security against the driest years on record.
However, some really important questions haven’t yet been answered:
• The fate of 112-year old Cape Horn Dam, site of California’s longest and highest fish ladder (but far from its best), remains to be determined.
• Who is going to pay for all of this is also uncertain. PG&E should pretty clearly bear the cost of dam removal.
• Who will pay for the pipeline proposed to carry Eel River water back uphill from the Lake Mendocino reservoir to the Potter Valley Irrigation District? So far, PVID has declined to bear the cost of securing its water supply, even as it claims that more than $30M in annual agricultural income entirely depends on it.
Unfortunately, the information and analyses used to develop the Feasibility Study Report have yet to be publicly released. The public paid for that work, and several Partnership entities are public bodies with an obligation to disclose information used to inform their decisions. Significantly greater transparency would help secure public support for the proposed plan.
Please: take a few minutes today to help FERC staff, other stakeholders, and political leaders understand how important it is to remove Scott Dam as soon as possible. We owe it to Eel River steelhead and salmon to give them the chance to find their way home and recover their natural abundance.
Register with FERC online below, copy and paste our sample comments (or write your own), and comment online using docket # P-77!
Dear FERC staff,
I’m writing to comment on the Feasibility Study Report filed by the Two Basin Partnership for the Potter Valley Project.
This project matters to me because I care about the Eel River and its fisheries. [If you want to say why, that would be great.]
Removing Scott Dam is clearly appropriate. The dam blocks all fish passage. It appears to have a number of serious safety issues. There is no alternative owner willing to assume the apparently significant liabilities and costs of relicensing and maintaining Scott Dam.
PG&E has benefitted from ownership of Scott and Cape Horn Dams for nearly a century. PG&E should bear the cost and responsibility for Scott Dam removal, and removal or modification of Cape Horn Dam as necessary to provide fish passage. The costs of providing Eel River water to Russian River interests should be borne by those who benefit from the water.