Dam Safety and Reliability

The Potter Valley Project (PVP) 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

On this week's episode of the EcoNews Report we reflect on the tragic dam failure in Libya last month and discuss why Scott Dam on the Eel River poses similar risks. The PG&E owned dam sits right on a significant ...
​On Sept. 12, storm Daniel overwhelmed two neglected dams in Libya. The flood washed away entire neighborhoods in the coastal city of Derna, killing thousands. Experts warned just last year that lack of maintenance risked failure of the dams, built ...
 PG&E TELLS FERC “SEISMIC RISK OF EEL RIVER DAMS GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY UNDERSTOOD” -FERC Approves Changes to Dam Operations to Mitigate Earthquake Risks -Four Months After Request, Approval Comes Too Late to Stop Fish Kill Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Federal ...
Dear Friends, For the last several years, I’ve been optimistically sharing that if everything fell perfectly into place, the Eel River Dams could be out of the river by 2030. We’ve just learned that my optimistic timeline may turn out ...
PG&E Admits Scott Dam Faces Serious Seismic Risks In a March 16, 2023 press release, PG&E has admitted that Scott Dam faces previously unacknowledged risks from seismic activity. Those risks are so great that the utility has announced that it ...
Hold PG&E At Fault Underlying issues threatening Scott Dam Scott Dam’s proximity to the Bartlett Springs Fault is a major safety concern. The Bartlett Springs fault was not identified by geologists as “a regionally significant seismic source” until the 1980s, ...
Wednesday, October 27, 2021 President Marybel Batjer California Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102 via electronic mail as feasible RE: Potter Valley Project Equipment Failure Dear President Batjer, This letter is meant to apprise you ...
Dams and the Consequences of Time  Dam safety concerns of Scott Dam’s aging structure This year Scott Dam turned 100 years old, and as is the case with any century-old infrastructure, there are some concerns about its safety. Cape Horn ...
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 ...
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 ...