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Water Flows

The Eel and Russian Rivers currently provide water for households, agriculture, wildlife and recreation in the following communities:

  • Humboldt
  • Mendocino
  • Lake
  • Sonoma
  • Marin
  • Trinity
  • Glenn


of Two Rivers

The Eel River watershed includes 3,600 square miles fed by four main tributaries that flow through rural communities, as well as rugged landscapes covering seven counties.

Water from the Upper Main-stem of the Eel flows into Lake Pillsbury, the lake formed by Scott Dam, located in the norther part of Lake County. The lake stores indispensable winter rainfall and snowmelt.

From Lake Pillsbury, cold water flows downstream 12 miles to Van Arsdale Reservoir, which is formed by Cape Horn Dam. Here, a portion of the Eel is diverted into the Russian River watershed, while the balance of the water continues north 170 miles through Humboldt County into the Pacific Ocean at Ferndale.

A diversion tunnel connects the two watershed basins. Water from the tunnel flows into a hydroelectric powerhouse which currently generates power for more than 2,000 homes. The diverted water then flows through Potter Valley, forming the East Branch of the Russian River, which runs into Lake Mendocino — a lake created by Coyote Valley Dam.

Below Coyote Valley Dam, water flows into the Russian River and travels south through Sonoma County and is co-mingled with natural flows from the tributaries of the Russian River watershed. The water finally reaches the Pacific Ocean at Jenner.