Potter Valley Project Licensing

The Potter Valley Project: 100+ Years of Water Supply...Will It Continue?

Mendocino County Farm Bureau supports local control of the Potter Valley Project.

The support of our membership is what allows us to continue to host events that educate the public and work on critical issues such as water supply. As a member, you will continue to receive updates on the latest developments in the licensing and sale of the Project through your e-letter subscription. Please contact our office if you have an updated e-mail address. If you are not a member, please consider joining the united voice of Farm Bureau.

Taking Action

  • Developed a postcard to provide our community with an opportunity to speak to their elected officials. View more information under the Community Education section.
  • For 15+ years we provided water tours to the public to provide a hands-on understanding of the water system.
  • Keeping our members informed with new developments through our quarterly newsletter and our e-letter subscription.


MCFB has hired a professional communications company to assist in developing messaging and outreach materials so that we can continue to expand our educational campaign related to the Potter Valley Project and related licensing process. The goal of this campaign is to work with the various interests and communities that benefit from the Project so that there is a broad-based understanding of the importance of maintaining the power and water supply. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, donations are being accepted. Please click on the DONATE button below or contact the MCFB office for additional information.

Project Information

Potter Valley Project Update: September 2021

Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission et. al submit a request for abeyance in the schedule until May 31, 2022 for licensing the Potter Valley Project.

In a letter dated September 2, 2021, the partner entities (IWPC, Sonoma Water, Cal Trout, Humboldt County and Round Valley Tribes) submitted a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for an abeyance (temporary suspension) in the current schedule for the licensing as provided by FERC until May 31, 2022.

Within the notice, it is stated: “In sum, the NOI Parties request an abeyance in this proceeding until May 31, 2022, so that the parties may further evaluate how the Project would best contribute to a comprehensive strategy to manage the emerging crises in fisheries and water resources management in both basins. The NOI Parties respectfully request that the Commission use its authority under 18 C.F.R. § 5.29(f)(2) to suspend the Process Plan and Schedule as proposed here.”

Also included in the notice are a series of technical memorandums discussing sedimentation analysis from possible dam removal scenarios and an overview of work completed to date by the partners on the license related studies.
The full document can be seen HERE

Water Supply Update

The latest storage curve graph for Lake Pillsbury can be seen below. It is a worthy reminder that the flow variance that PG&E filed with FERC earlier this year has the goal of not allowing the storage levels to fall below 12,000 acre feet. The variance won’t be terminated until the storage levels in the lake are above 36,000 acre feet or by February 28, 2022, whichever comes first. If PG&E feels the need to file for an additional variance, FERC requested a 60-90 day notice period.

Within the variance, PG&E requested FERC approval to apply critically-dry water-year minimum flow requirement of 5 cfs in the East Branch Russian River instead of the dry water-year requirement (25 cfs minimum flow). In addition, PG&E requested FERC approval to decrease its maximum release to the Potter Valley Irrigation District to the exceptionally-low requirement of 25 cfs through October 15, 2021, instead of the maximum release of 50 cfs. On October 16th, the allocations to Potter Valley Irrigation District will be limited to an average of 3cfs.

PG&E did not propose any changes to minimum flow releases into the Eel River below either Scott or Cape Horn Dams (i.e., respectively, 40 cfs at gage E-02 for a dry water-year and 3 cfs at gage E-11 for a very dry water-year during the summer months, and increasing thereafter based on basin conditions). Further, PG&E requested that resource agencies be permitted to roll over any unused water-year 2021 block water (i.e., the 2,500 acre-feet of water allocated for resource agencies to release into the Eel River) into the next water year.

FERC approved the extension of the PG&E variance on August 11, 2021. A copy of the FERC letter can be seen HERE

Licensing Information

Initial Study Report
Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Sonoma County Water Agency, California Trout, Inc., the County of Humboldt, California, and the Round Valley Indian Tribes (together, NOI Parties) submitted a an Initial Study Report (ISR) to FERC in mid September 2020. The ISR describes the overall progress in implementing the study plan and schedule and the data collected, including an explanation of any variance from the study plan and schedule. The full Initial Study Report can be found HERE.

File Disagreements and Requests to Amend Study Plan
Stakeholders were able to file disagreements and requests to amend the study plan on November 13, 2020. MCFB submitted comments which can be found HERE.

The main points of conversation were related to the importance of analyzing impacts to water users in the newly introduced studies of AQ12 and SE1.

Response to Comments on Initial Study Report
The NOI Parties provided a response to comments document on December 14, 2020. The response document can be found HERE.

FERC Determination
FERC was scheduled to release a “Director’s determination on disagreements and amendments ” on January 13, 2021. The document was finally released from FERC on March 16, 2021. The document can be seen HERE

Timeline for Future Actions
Within Scoping Document 3 released by FERC in July 2020, a timeline was provided as Appendix A for a process plan and schedule for the licensing. This is a general timeline, but a good reference to review. Appendix A can be seen HERE

If you would like to sign up to receive updates related to any future filings connected to the Potter Valley Project, you can do so by visiting the FERC website and going to the e-subscription page. If you have not registered with FERC, you will have to register before proceeding with the e-subscription. Once registered you can sign up to receive information related to docket P-77-000, which is the Potter Valley Project.

The recent filing is one of many milestones to be accomplished in getting to the FERC licensing deadline of April 14, 2022. The process will continue to evolve, and we will all have to be engaged in shaping the final outcome. If there are any questions regarding the comment process, please feel free to contact the MCFB office.

Supporting Partners