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September 2021 Update

Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission et. al submit a request for abeyance in the schedule until May 31, 2022 for licensing the Potter Valley Project.

In a letter dated September 2, 2021, the partner entities (IWPC, Sonoma Water, Cal Trout, Humboldt County and Round Valley Tribes) submitted a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for an abeyance (temporary suspension) in the current schedule for the licensing as provided by FERC until May 31, 2022.

Within the notice, it is stated:

“In sum, the NOI Parties request an abeyance in this proceeding until May 31, 2022, so that the parties may further evaluate how the Project would best contribute to a comprehensive strategy to manage the emerging crises in fisheries and water resources management in both basins. The NOI Parties respectfully request that the Commission use its authority under 18 C.F.R. § 5.29(f)(2) to suspend the Process Plan and Schedule as proposed here.”

Also included in the notice are a series of technical memorandums discussing sedimentation analysis from possible dam removal scenarios and an overview of work completed to date by the partners on the license related studies.

The full document can be seen HERE.

Water Supply Update

The flow variance that PG&E filed with FERC earlier this year has the goal of not allowing the storage levels at Lake Pillsbury to fall below 12,000 acre feet. The variance won’t be terminated until the storage levels in the lake are above 36,000 acre feet or by February 28, 2022, whichever comes first. If PG&E feels the need to file for an additional variance, FERC requested a 60-90 day notice period.

Within the variance, PG&E requested FERC approval to apply critically-dry water-year minimum flow requirement of 5 cfs in the East Branch Russian River instead of the dry water-year requirement (25 cfs minimum flow). In addition, PG&E requested FERC approval to decrease its maximum release to the Potter Valley Irrigation District to the exceptionally-low requirement of 25 cfs through October 15, 2021, instead of the maximum release of 50 cfs. On October 16th, the allocations to Potter Valley Irrigation District will be limited to an average of 3cfs.

PG&E did not propose any changes to minimum flow releases into the Eel River below either Scott or Cape Horn Dams (i.e., respectively, 40 cfs at gage E-02 for a dry water-year and 3 cfs at gage E-11 for a very dry water-year during the summer months, and increasing thereafter based on basin conditions). Further, PG&E requested that resource agencies be permitted to roll over any unused water-year 2021 block water (i.e., the 2,500 acre-feet of water allocated for resource agencies to release into the Eel River) into the next water year.

FERC approved the extension of the PG&E variance on August 11, 2021. A copy of the FERC letter can be seen HERE.