February 5, 2019 — Today we’ll hear from Congressman Jared Huffman about his thoughts on the "two-basin solution" to the long-running controversy about the Potter Valley Project.
Negotiations about the future of the project have taken on a new urgency. PG&E, which owns and operates the two dams, two reservoirs, inter-basin diversion tunnel and powerhouse, announced recently that the company is withdrawing from the re-licensing process and will no longer attempt to sell the project. The Inland Water and Power Commission, a joint powers authority composed of the County of Mendocino, the City of Ukiah, the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation District, and the irrigation districts of Potter and Redwood Valleys, just spent $100,000 to hire a consultant to help navigate the company’s multi-tiered auction process.
The current license expires in 2022, but the effort to re-license the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began in April of 2017. In an effort to complement the formal process, Congressman Jared Huffman convened an ad hoc committee of a wide range of water interests in both the Eel and Russian River watersheds. The committee doesn’t have formal authority, but it does have two main goals toward what’s been termed a two basin solution: “Improve fish passage and habitat on the Eel River sufficient to support recovery of naturally reproducing, self-sustaining and harvestable native anadromous fish populations including migratory access upstream and downstream at current project dam locations;” and “Minimize or avoid adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins,” according to the committee’s website, pottervalleyproject.org. There, you can find out who’s on which of the two working groups, read documents about fish passage and water flow, and brush up on the details of FERC’s re-licensing process.