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

When dams are removed, a variety of experts from engineers to hydrologists and biologists develop plans to minimize negative impacts on aquatic life. When PG&E’s license for the Potter Valley Project on the Eel River expired last month, that began ...
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KMUD: The Environment Show May 3, 2022 Every Tuesday at 7 PM Host: Tom Wheeler of EPIC Guests: Alicia Hamann, Executive Director of Friends of the Eel River and Redgie Collins, Legal & Policy Director at CalTrout. In this segment ...
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On Thursday, we celebrated the expiration of PG&E’s 50-year license for the Eel River dams. Next up comes license surrender, decommissioning, and ultimately dam removal. Tune in to hear about what this process might look like and why it is ...
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For Immediate Release April 18, 2022 Environmental, Fishing Groups Give Notice of Intent to Sue Pacific Gas and Electric to Minimize Harms to Salmon Until Eel River Dams Are Removed Dams put federally protected salmon and steelhead at risk of ...
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Aging Eel River dams headed for license surrender and decommissioning Today, PG&E’s license to operate the Potter Valley Project (PVP) expires. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the agency tasked with regulating hydropower projects – will now ask PG&E ...
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April 11, 2022 Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 888 First Street, NE Washington, D.C. 20426 Re: Interim Protective Measures Pending Decommissioning of the Potter Valley Project (P-77) on the Eel River, California Dear Secretary Bose: The undersigned ...
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