A battle that has been brewing for years over the use of the Eel River water will become even more contentious as Pacific Gas and Electric applies for the permit to continue to operate the diversions on the Eel River called the Potter Valley Project. Since the 1900’s, Eel River water has been piped through the mountains and stored in Lake Mendocino. Lake Mendocino provides water for farms and municipalities from the lake to Healdsburg with 600,000 Bay Area residents depend on this source for their drinking water.
The Press Democrat quotes local congressman Jared Huffman. ”It’s a critical moment, said Rep. Jared Huffman, the San Rafael Democrat whose North Coast district spans the adjacent watersheds. and says of the process, While Huffman hopes to carve out a consensus, there’s little common ground between environmentalists who want to stop the inter-county transfer of Eel River water, which some consider an out-and-out grab, and those who use that water to support agriculture worth hundreds of millions of dollars along the Russian River in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.” In this year of low fish numbers, this project pits the Eel River fisheries against the Russian River fisheries as both rivers use Eel River water. The impacts of removing the dams would have severe impacts on the local economy which includes the wine industry.