Potter Valley Project

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About the Potter Valley Project

The Potter Valley Project is a small hydropower project in the headwaters of the Eel River. It consists of two dams, a mile-long diversion tunnel, and a powerhouse with a 9.4 mw capacity. The project is located in the Eel River headwaters and diverts water out of the watershed into the Russian River. Removing this project is the necessary first step to fisheries recovery on the Eel River.

Learn more about dam impacts to fisheries habitat & flow, local economy, energy production, and downstream safety here.

Potter Valley Project map

Traveling upriver as the salmon do, Cape Horn Dam is the first structure. It was built in 1908, stands 96ft tall, and impounds the river to make the 700af Van Arsdale Reservoir. Cape Horn Dam is equipped with a fish ladder, although some migrating species like Lamprey still have a hard time with this obstacle. About 12 miles upstream is Scott Dam. It was built in 1922, stands 138ft tall, and creates the roughly 79,000af Lake Pillsbury Reservoir. Scott Dam lacks any fish passage, preventing migrating salmonids and other native species from accessing roughly 10% of the Eel River Watershed.

 

ScottDam_aerial_RB
Scott Dam impounds the river to form Lake Pillsbury Reservoir, all under the backdrop of Snow Mountain.

Cape Horn Dam impounds the Eel River to form Van Arsdale Reservoir. There is a fish ladder here where the Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts fish counts.

The Latest Eel River Dams News

September 9, 2021 Contact: Alicia Hamann, alicia(at)eelriver.org Scott Greacen, scott(at)eelriver.org Potter Valley Project Surrender and Decommissioning the Best Path for Eel River Fisheries The Two Basin Partnership should withdraw their Notice of Intent to relicense and support the ...
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A Much Bigger Problem - More ways poor design impacts dam safety at Scott Dam Decreased water storage, high temperatures, and evapotranspiration cause the sediment that has piled up in steep banks behind Scott Dam to dry out and slough ...
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Between a Rock and Management Priorities - Immense Pressure on Scott Dam's Questionable Foundation Of the many safety concerns at Scott Dam, the first we featured in our blog series was the uncertain quality of the bedrock and redesigned dam ...
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Only a small genetic difference separates winter-run and summer-run steelhead, but that little bit of nucleic acid makes a big difference. Last month, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list the North Coast’s summer steelhead under the California ...
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Dear Friend, Restoring fish access to the Eel River’s headwaters by removing the Potter Valley Project dams. Protecting the rare and spectacular summer steelhead. Safeguarding public trust values. Adapting to climate change and sea level rise. At Friends of the ...
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For the seventh time over the past nine years, PG&E is requesting yet another flow variance at the Potter Valley Project due to limited water availability. As the utility explained to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), PG&E is cutting ...
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