The Current Magazine Winter 2016/17 - Page 13

According to Mierau, "The first step is to determine if there is viable fish habitat above the dam and, if so, that would hopefully lead to a finding that fish passage above Lake Pillsbury is warranted." A project conducted by The Native Fish Society, which installed fourteen water temperature loggers at various points in the river above Lake Pillsbury, has shown that summer water temperatures are suitable for rearing steelhead. (What is even more encouraging is that these measures were taken during the drought when water levels were extremely low.) CalTrout will also be supporting an investigation into whether other reservoirs in the region not connected to the Eel River can be tapped to supply water to the Russian River, thus offsetting the loss of storage from Lake Pillsbury.

CalTrout plans to play an active role during the comment phase of the relicensing period by providing scientific data about stream flows and fish passage. Collins notes that "CalTrout is looking hard at whether PG&E should consider any alterations to how they operate their dams, taking into account the needs of fish, irrigation uses, and hydropower generation."

PG&E holds the water rights for the customers of the Potter Valley Project, and thus another area that CalTrout will be advocating for is how best to allocate water for both human and fishery needs. In addition, native tribes in the area will likely play an important role in the water rights discussions as they hold the highest priority water rights.

"CalTrout is making a realistic assessment of the area and trying to find a solution that balances the needs of people and the native fish. Whether that means dam removal or other means of fish passage remains to be determined," Collins says.

(continued on page 52)

Van Arsdale dam