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

As many of you are likely now familiar, PG&E is unable to meet the flow schedule for the Potter Valley Project as outlined in their amended license from 2004. This flow schedule is unobtainable in most years due to a ...
PG&E announced on Friday, May 31 late last week that it will request a 7-month extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in decommissioning the Eel River dams. Stakeholders were expecting the utility to file its Draft Surrender Application ...
Friends of the Eel River has long been pursuing more clarity from PG&E on dam safety at the Potter Valley Project. The utility company has long made the choice to classify dam safety and emergency planning documents related to the ...
 Tune into this clip from Episode 8 of "Unmanageable with Alicia Bales" to hear Friends of the Eel River Conservation Director Scott Greacen break down dam removal at the Potter Valley Project and what a diversion means in the ...
The Potter Valley Project, which blocks access to pristine, cold water spawning habitat for Eel River salmonids, is no longer a functioning hydroelectric project. PG&E has announced plans to remove both Scott and Cape Horn dams as soon as possible ...
Tune into this recording from the KMUD Environment Show hosted by Tom Wheeler to hear our Executive Director Alicia Hamann discuss our most pressing initiatives at Friends of the Eel River: dam removal on the Eel River, protecting the public's ...