Potter Valley Project Update

Written By: Jeff Carlton, President
Published: October 1, 2019

Water. A key ingredient to the powerhouse agriculture industry we are a part of here in Sonoma County. Hopefully, like me, you have stayed up to date with the latest developments regarding the Potter Valley Project. The Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission is still in the licensing process to take ownership and control of the power plant and water supply from the diversion from the main stem of the Eel River to the Russian River that many here in Sonoma County rely on. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau has worked to support Mendocino’s efforts by pushing out information to our members online and by hosting informational events at our office.

Here is the latest update. Over the last month, there have been a few key developments with the licensing
process. According to the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, the four NOI partners (MCIWPC, Sonoma Water, Cal Trout and Humboldt County) have been discussing the formation of an official entity and bringing on additional parties into the current partnership. The Round Valley Tribes signed the agreement to participate and the Lake County has also budgeted the funding required to, with the final approval of the other partner groups pending. Additional partners that may be considered are the Yurok Tribe and the Dry Creek Band of Pomo.

The partners are working to develop a planning document used to operate the water diversion licensed as a power generation station under FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.) A professional communications company was hired to assist in developing messaging and outreach materials. Their goal is to create a broad-based understanding of the importance of maintaining the power and water supply. Here in Sonoma County, we need to do our part to help them accomplish this goal. After all, potential loss a secure water supply, flood protection and recreational enjoyment for those in the Russian River watershed and for many Sonoma County citizens is at stake.

Members of our farming community and especially those operations that have no other summertime water supply with little economic funding to build major infrastructure to pump water up from Lake Mendocino at a cost everyone can afford are left the most vulnerable during this process. We know that the security of our water supply depends on the relicensing process and cooperation between diverse stakeholders. Resolving this complex water and environmental issues will take time because so much is at stake and so much is unknown. I strongly suggest you stay up to date and educate yourself on the issue and understand how losing or altering the Potter Valley Project could impact you, your business or your community.

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