Dam Safety and Reliability

The Potter Valley Project’s (PVP) Scott Dam presents a range of potentially serious issues related to safety and reliability.

The failure of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to address dam safety issues as part of the PVP relicensing process has deprived stakeholders and the public of information and analysis critical to assessing the potential utility, and liabilities, of Scott Dam and the Potter Valley Project as a whole.

Dam Safety Resources

FERC claims that its dam safety program assures the safety of Scott Dam and other federally licensed hydropower projects. However, the Oroville Dam crisis has raised grave questions about the adequacy of FERC’s dam safety inspection and review program.

The classification of most dam safety related information as closely restricted Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) has contributed to the difficulty of holding PG&E and FERC accountable for their failures to fully address dam safety issues, at Scott Dam and elsewhere. CEII information restrictions also make it more difficult to show that Scott Dam can, in fact, be safely left in place.

FOER has been hammering for years on the many reasons why Scott Dam is not only unsafe, but also unreliable. From its unstable foundation, to the active landslides adjacent to the southern side, our confidence in the structure is shaky at best. Plans for failure of various parts of the aging infrastructure are unavailable to the public at best, non-existent at worst. See below for links to our series of short articles which detail the range of dam safety issues at the Potter Valley Project, complete of course with links to all the evidence we can get our hands on.

Dam Safety Blog Posts

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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What is wrong with this picture? Looking below the surface at Scott Dam’s design Did you know Scott Dam was originally designed to run straight across the Eel River Canyon? So why is there an angle in Scott Dam? How ...
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Friends of the Eel River has been evaluating the safety and reliability of Scott Dam for several years now. We continue to have serious concerns about structural integrity and seismic stability, as well as PG&E's failure to evaluate and disclose ...
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In response to preventable disasters like the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, Pacific Gas and Electric has insisted that they are committed to high safety standards. It’s now a decade, and several other disasters, later and the company has yet ...
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A new app from the California Department of Conservation called EQ Zapp identifies earthquake hazard zones based on several types of geologic ground failures. These include fault ruptures, liquefaction of the soil, and earthquake induced landslides. The EQ Zapp shows ...
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Stephanie Tidwell, Friends of the Eel River Executive Director, and Scott Greacen, Friends of the Eel River Conservation Director, discuss new and proposed state legislation and how it may effect the Eel River.  California legislators passed SB 92 and AB 1270, both ...
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One of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures released a new report Thursday on the troubled Oroville Dam that asks a disturbing question: Is the country’s tallest dam leaking? State dam managers have insisted for months that there’s ...
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Fresh off the Oroville Dam crisis, California lawmakers on Thursday voted to make dam-safety plans secret through language that was quietly inserted into a budget-related bill. The legislation, which requires Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature before becoming law, says emergency action ...
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Months after the Oroville Dam crisis, state regulators are ordering sweeping inspections of aging dams throughout California to determine whether they, too, have vulnerabilities. The move comes as state officials are still trying to determine precisely what caused both spillways at the ...
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