February Guest Editorial: Water Supply is Dam Important

Written By: Devon Jones, Executive Director, Mendocino County Farm Bureau
Published: February 6, 2019

The Potter Valley Project (Project), which has been operated by PG&E since 1932, started a re-licensing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2017 to prepare for the current license expiration in April 2022. On May 10, 2018, PG&E decided that they were going to sell the Project, related infrastructure and FERC license through an auction process. It is unknown as to how many individuals or entities were considering the submittal of an indicative proposal to PG&E to start the negotiation process, however the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC) was moving forward with developing a proposal to submit by February 1, 2019 in the hopes of retaining local control of the Project. For more information on IWPC and the member agencies, please see the link below.

On January 25, 2019 in a shocking notice, PG&E sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) providing their “Notice of Withdrawal of Notice of Intent to File License Application and Pre-Application Document” for the Project. As a result, PG&E will expeditiously cease all activities related to the relicensing of the Project and their efforts to sell the Project. The now “orphaned” Project, related licensing, and sales process is in FERCs hands.

This unexpected news from PG&E has left more questions than answers regarding what happens next. That being said, IWPC is working to gather information in order to understand how the re-licensing and sales process for the Project is expected to move forward with FERC. Concurrently, Mendocino County Farm Bureau will be working to ramp up the public relations campaign to educate the 600,000 people from Potter Valley to Northern Marin that have become dependent on the water supply provided from the Project since 1908. There are plenty of vocal individuals that are not shy about supporting the decommissioning and removal of the Project. Now is the time for those that support the Project to raise their voices and tell their story as this new chapter in the relicensing process begins.

If you farm, ranch or reside in Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Calpella, Talmage, Ukiah, Hopland, Cloverdale, Geyserville, Alexander Valley and Healdsburg, you especially need to pay attention to this issue. Your water supply is in serious jeopardy! If you recreate at Lake Pillsbury or Lake Mendocino, you need to pay attention. If you recognize the value of the water supply for fire suppression efforts in 2017 and 2018, you need to pay attention. If you understand the value of this water supply to support listed fish species and all aquatic species in the Russian River, you need to pay attention. As long as the tap turns on, there isn’t a thought given to the water source. What happens if you open the tap and no water comes out?

How can you help? 1) educate yourself on the issue and understand how losing the Project and related water supply could impact you, your business or your community, 2) encourage your friends, neighbors and elected officials to understand the issue, 3) attend future meetings on this topic and 4) consider donating time or financial resources to assist Farm Bureau with our PR efforts. For more information, please visit: https:// www.mendoiwpc.com/ or http://mendofb.org/ Have questions? Please contact the Mendocino County Farm Bureau: (707) 462-6664 or director@mendofb.org

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