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Russian River Weekly Update 2/12/24

Scott Dam spilling, April 8, 2023 by CJ Watt
Scott Dam spilling, April 8, 2023 by CJ Watt

 Reservoir Storage & Operations:

Water supply information provided by Sonoma Water (find more water storage info here).

The image displays data on water storage levels for Lake Mendocino, Lake Pillsbury, and Lake Sonoma with dates, current storage, and change over 7 days.
Graph showing Lake Mendocino storage levels by year with a focus on February 12, 2024, at 80,881 acre-feet.
A graph showing Lake Sonoma storage levels over time with different years represented by various colored lines.


Don’t Panic About PG&E Just Yet!

After inviting a locally developed proposal for a pathway of continued diversions in the decommissioning process, PG&E informed representatives of the newly created Eel Russian Project Authority (ERPA) of a change in its position on some key aspects to the plan. A PG&E spokesperson “…said including needs for future diversions as part of the utility’s federal license surrender created unwanted liabilities and threatened to delay removal of Scott and Cape Horn dams as part of its plant decommissioning.” (Press Democrat)

In an issued statement, PG&E stated it “has reviewed the proposal provided by the Project Proponents (but) determined that there are aspects of the proposal which do not align with its goal of completing the decommissioning of the Potter Valley Project within the schedule approved by FERC. Therefore, the proponent’s request to construct the new Eel-Russian facility under FERC’s jurisdiction will not be included in PG&E’s Final Draft Surrender Application and Decommissioning Plan, (but) it is encouraged to see broad stakeholder support of the proposal and supports completion of the new facility in a separate but parallel path to PG&E’s decommissioning. To facilitate that path, PG&E will include those portions of the proposal that will not otherwise delay dam removal (and) will continue to engage with the proponents on a solution which addresses both parties’ goals.” (Ukiah Daily Journal)

ERPA representatives believe a path forward for continued diversions still exists and the work continues. PG&E even said, “it will support and facilitate that work where it can…” and “remains committed to continue working together.” (Press Democrat)

North Coast U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman is not dismayed, noting he “half expected PG&E to act as it has, given the number of times the utility has indicated it would accommodate the region’s needs then ‘decided that their corporate interest was in a different direction.’… Simply put, Huffman said, ‘PG&E is trying to get out from under this project as cheaply and quickly as they can.’’ (Press Democrat)

“When asked specifically how he intends to keep his promise to voters of creating a Two-Basin Solution,” Huffman said he will remain an advocate for a Two-Basin Solution, and was still “intent on getting it across the finish line,” noting that the proposals for continued diversions did not have to be created in partnership with PG&E in order for them to be successful, and that he was “as confident as I have ever been” about the Two-Basin Solution becoming a reality. (Ukiah Daily Journal)

The above taken from the following two articles:

GIFT ARTICLE: Press Democrat- PG&E decision jeopardizes Eel River diversions that keep the Russian River flowing year-round, 2/11/24

Ukiah Daily Journal: PG&E drops diversion options from its PVP proposal, Mendocino County officials report, 2/7/24  Or the same article in Willits News: 2/7/24

UDJ -PG&E drops diversion options from its PVP proposal, 2-7-24.pdf


Additional reading:

KZYX: Humboldt County supervisors keeping an eye on diversion plans, 2/10/24

Public Policy Institute of California Video Release: Eel River-Reconnecting Salmon and People

PPIC Video: Eel River—Reconnecting Salmon and People, 2/12/24

Removing the Eel River dams could restore access to more than 200 miles of habitat, but how will these changes affect the many communities connected to the river? Filmmaker Cameron Nielsen spoke to people on all sides of the issue in this visually arresting short documentary.”

Eel River, from PPIC website
Eel River


Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) – Rate & Fee Study Progress

Ukiah Valley  Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Logo, UVB GSA

 The Ukiah Valley Basin GSA will be having a Board meeting on Tuesday February 13 from 1:30 - 4:30 pm. Members of the public who wish to learn more about the fee study to attend this meeting either in person or virtually by live stream on YouTube or join the Zoom meeting during the date/time of the meeting. You may find the meeting materials (agenda, board packet, and presentation) on the website at this link.


California Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future

In response to the Governor’s release of the strategy to recover salmon populations affected by climate change, the CA Natural Resources Agency hosted a Speaker Series Event last week. Speakers included Secretary Wade Crofoot, CDFW Chuck Bonham, Yurok Tribal Gvmt Vice Chair Frankie Meyers, President of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association, Cal Trout Executive Director Curtis Knight, NOAA Fisheries Cathy Marcinkevage, and SWRCB Erik Ekdahl. A recording can be found here: For more information on the strategy, visit: Office of Gov Newsom: Salmon Strategy for Hotter, Drier Future, 1/30/24

2024 CA Salmon Strategy for Hotter, Drier Future report

 Related articles:


Supply and Demand Assessment (SDA) by the SWRCB in the Russian River

The SDA Unit has continued to work on the models and tools developed for the Russian River Watershed during the State Water Board's 2021-2022 Regional Drought Response. These tools provided the necessary information for the Division of Water Rights (Division) to assess water availability and issue water right curtailments to ensure adequate, minimal water supplies for critical purposes under the emergency regulation. Visit the Water Rights Demand Data Analysis Methodology webpage to learn more and try out the tool. The Division used a water allocation tool adopted from the UC Davis Drought Water Rights Allocation Tool (DWRAT) to allocate available supply amongst water right holders based on their respective water right priority and water demands.


North Coast Resource Partnership Request for Proposals: Technical Assistance for Project Development

The North Coast Resource Partnership (NCRP) is pleased to offer a Request for Proposals for Technical Assistance to Tribes and economically disadvantaged communities to support project development for the NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Grant Program. EXTENDED DUE DATE: Proposals will be accepted & awarded on a rolling basis through MAY 1, 2024


Lunch-MAR to discuss integrating nature-based features – Wednesday March 6

Integrating nature-based features into flood risk management projects will be the focus at the next Flood-Managed Aquifer Recharge (Flood-MAR) Program lunchtime webinar. Julie Beagle from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be the featured speaker. The Lunch-MAR webinar will be Wednesday, March 6, 12:30 – 1:30 PM.


20th Annual CA Water Law Symposium – 1913 to Now: Diversifying Solutions to Water Governance in CA

February 24, 2024 at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Topics this year include Water Rights Enforcement, SGMA, Klamath Dam Removal, Racial Equity, and more. For more information visit:


Water 101 Workshop: The Basics & Beyond by the CA Water Education Foundation, April 5, 2024

The annual Water 101 Workshop details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state. Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in California, the one-day workshop on April 5 gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource. The workshop, hosted at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, will be beneficial to water district directors, water resource industry staff, engineering and environmental firm personnel, city council members, county supervisors, legislators, legislative staff, press, advocates, attorneys, environmentalists, public interest organizations and others. More information and registration can be found on the website.


The Latest in the California Beaver Chronicles

Santa Maria Sun: Central Coast organization helps restore beaver habitat, spread awareness about the semiaquatic rodents’ benefits, 2/8/24

Beaver working from Santa Maria Sun 2/8/24, photo by Audrey Taub


Water Use Reporting for Water Year 2022-2023 – Now Overdue

From the State Water Board: This is a reminder that Annual Water Use Reports were due for all water rights before February 1, 2024.  If you have not yet submitted your Annual Water Use Report, please do so as soon as possible to avoid penalties of up to $500 per day. As of February 5, 2024, 55 percent of reports have been submitted. You can submit your water use information now using the online Report Management System (  Detailed filing instructions are available on the Water Use Help Reporting webpage (  If you’re not sure whether you’ve submitted your water use report, you can check the status of your reports by simply logging into the Report Management System. For assistance, contact State Water Board staff via email ( or phone (916.341.5431). Staff aims to respond within 24 hours, with longer response times during periods of high call volume (i.e., near the deadline).


In the press:


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