12A   UnderCurrents
6A     Weekend Edition
9A     This American Life
10A   Reveal
11A   Thistle & Shamrock

photo credit: Courtesy of shannon1/Wikimedia Commons
PG&E has begun relinquishing its control of the Potter Valley Project. Concerned that this will reduce water supplies, Santa Rosa is exploring options.
Mendocino County's century old Potter Valley Project consists of two Eel River dams, a tunnel diverting some of the Eel into the East Fork of the Russian River, and an inoperable powerhouse in need of expensive repairs.
Outgoing Santa Rosa council member Tom Schwedhelm said one thing is certain.
"This is going be challenging," Schwedhelm said. "It's going to be years ahead of us, but we just need to be supported being on the same team because Santa Rosa, this isn't our main source, but we are some of the big players in this."
Jennifer Burke, Santa Rosa Water's Director, stressed the consequences of ceasing diversions.
"Sonoma Water has done a number of different modeling efforts and determined that in eight out of 10 years, there will not be enough water supply to meet the needs of the upper Russian River communities," Burke said. "And in two of those eight years, in essence, Lake Mendocino is predicted to go dry."
PG&E, which operates the project, abruptly withdrew its re-licensing application three years ago. It's looking to surrender it in 2025. In response to the 2019 notice, Representative Jared Huffman formed an ad-hoc group that spawned the “two basin partnership” - a collection of fisheries advocates, local governments, and tribal authorities seeking to wrestle control of the Potter Valley Project.
Peter Martin, also with Santa Rosa Water, detailed that proposal, termed the “two basin solution”.
"That would include the removal of Scott Dam, which creates Lake Pillsbury and, what they have deemed a run of the river project, that would not rely as heavily on the existing Van Arsdale storage and diversion facilities on the Eel River," Martin said. "This was ultimately identified to cost in the range of a hundred million to four hundred million."
The “two basin partnership” ultimately failed, but their solution remains on the table.
Now, Sonoma Water is launching a new body--the “Russian River Water Forum” in another push to gain control of the project.
  • SoCo Calendar
  • Latest News
  • Right Now
  • Weather
  • Earthquakes
  • First News
Read More
thumbnail FirstNews logoA weekday early morning podcast that offers a first look at the top local news stories and weather forecast you need to start your day.

Sonoma County news stories featuring the latest in breaking news, county government, elections, environment, cultural happenings, and updates on your communities, from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay, and everyplace in between.

Subscribe to the Sonoma County First News podcast through our website, the NorCal Mobile App, NPR Podcasts, NPR One, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Read More

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.