The Current Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 19

This volunteer coalition of stakeholders and public participants prepared the Eel River Action Plan, released earlier this this year. The goal of the Forum is to build a constructive collaboration with PG&E and other stakeholders, including the Potter Valley Irrigation District and the Sonoma County Water Agency, and to take a proactive, science-driven approach to the relicensing process. CalTrout is currently working with Humboldt State University to conduct studies above Lake Pillsbury to assess the quantity and quality of habitat in the upper basin for salmonid spawning and rearing.

The historic salmonid populations in the Eel River are all listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Water throughout the Eel River is listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act for excessive sedimentation and high temperatures. The river’s delta and estuary are also negatively affected by land conversion for agricultural uses, sediment issues, and water quality.

On the other side of the equation, the Potter Valley Project supports PG&E’s green energy portfolio, making it a valuable asset to the company and its customers. The project also provides irrigation to farmers in two watersheds.

Only time will tell whether the right combination of funding and collaboration among stakeholders will make it possible to retain the Potter Valley Project dams in a manner that provides appropriate water flows and fish passage to support the recovery of native fisheries. CalTrout is closely involved in the evaluation and decision process, leading with the best available science and working collaboratively to find a way forward that benefits both fish and people.

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