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PVID Status Update June 25, 2017

It was the end of May before water season got into full swing. Some years we get started in March. Frost season this year was near non-existent. Lake Pillsbury is only six feet below the full mark and flows have been consistently above the minimum requirements below Cape Horn Dam and normal flows from storage are being released through the Project into the East Branch Russian River. This is good news for everyone, green hydro power, domestic and industrial, agriculture, and fisheries.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is holding their first Public Scoping Meeting to take public and agency comments on the FERC Relicensing of the PG&E Potter Valley Project. This meeting is on June 28, 2017 at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center. There will be two meetings, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. PVID will be posting all of our comments and documentation on our website as this process evolves. PG&E'S FERC License is up for renewal in 2022 but they are required to start the process 5 years prior to that date.

PVID has been extremely busy since it stopped raining. We have rebuilt the Williams Creek Flume with steel. Replacement of the wooden supports for the steel pipeline lateral crossing Busch Creek was severely damaged during one of the large storms this winter. We replaced the center stream supports with a steel angle frame mounted to the stream bank footings. We installed 1300 feet of 18” dia. PVC pipe in one of our open dirt ditch laterals and installed five new galvanized steel gates here to better control water deliveries and loss of water. We are currently cleaning and rebuilding portions of our main canal system and replacing wooden slide delivery gates with steel toggle gates. We still have much to do. We are in the design and engineering phase of rebuilding the 270 feet long Busch Creek Flume, replacing a 40 foot property access culvert in lateral #36 on Powerhouse Road, and we will continue hand cleaning our delivery laterals.

I would like to remind everyone that our water rates for 2017 into 2019 have increased as our contract with PG&E stipulates. PVID will be paying $10.00 per acre foot and our customers will be charged $12.50 per acre foot. I would also like to welcome our new Office Assistant, Dana Harrison to our team. Excluding the school summer break she will be in the office 4 hours per day to help us keep up with a multitude of programs and required federal, state and county regulations.

Just a reminder, please maintain a record of each irrigation, and stay in contact with your Water Tender. A calendar works well for logging the start date & time, and the stop date & time.

Steven Elliott, Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

PVID Update, February 13, 2017

Well, I expect everyone is aware that our rainfall since October is at 50". Compare this to 2014 for the same time period of only 6.70". This heavy rainfall seems great on the surface, and Potter Valley Irrigation District depends on this rain, and snow, for water storage in Lake Pillsbury. Even though 520,000 acre feet of water has flowed over the crest of Scott Dam so far this year, Lake Pillsbury can only store 57,000 acre feet of a total capacity of 75,000 until the top ten foot high gates are closed April 1st each year.

We are doing our best to insure that a water control variance is not required like the last three years. PVID has impressed upon PG&E, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the Potter Valley Drought Working Group (PVDWG) of which all agree, that weather patterns and snow pack must be analyzed closely in February and March so the gates on Scott Dam can be closed early enough to fill the lake. The mechanics of accomplishing this are varied and too lengthy to explain here. Needless to say, we are working on it.

Busch Creek Flume, Jan 10, 2017
Busch Creek Flume, Jan 10, 2017

The wet weather since October has slowed our construction and maintenance projects. With materials on hand for three projects, we are performing as many offsite portions of the work as possible. We are also working on our budget, and preparing for the 2016 financial audit.

PG&E is holding a Public Meeting to explain the procedures required for their FERC Relicensing on March 9, 2017 at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center. There will be two meetings, 1:00 to 4:00 PM and 6:00 to 9:00 PM. PG&E'S FERC License is up for renewal in 2022 but they are required to start the process 5 years prior to that date.

I would like to remind everyone that our water rates for 2017 and 2018 have increased as our contract with PG&E stipulates. PVID will be paying $10.00 per acre foot and our customers will be charged $12.50 per acre foot.

Just a reminder, please maintain a record of each irrigation, and stay in contact with your Water Tender. A calendar works well for logging the start date & time, and the stop date & time.

Steven Elliott,
Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Potter Valley Project Relicensing Public Meeting

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be convening two public, stakeholder meetings on March 9, 2017, to discuss the initial required steps being taken to obtain a new FERC license for the Potter Valley Project, FERC Project No. 77 (Project), located in Mendocino and Lake Counties, California. To accommodate your availability, one meeting will be held in the afternoon and one in the evening. Both meetings will have the same agenda. Please save the date.

The specific details are as follows:

Date: March 9, 2017
Times: 1–4 pm &6–9 pm
Location:
Ukiah Valley Conference Center
200 S. School Street
Ukiah, CA 95482

The purpose of these meetings is to acquaint interested parties with FERC's Integrated Licensing Process (ILP), including key milestones and opportunities for stakeholder participation. PG&E will also provide an overview of Project features and operations, and describe the Pre-Application Document that we intend to file with FERC as required and no later than April 14, 2017.

PG&E looks forward to your attendance and participation. For additional information on the meetings or the Project, please contact Susan Kester, PG&E Relicensing Project Manager at (415) 973-7202.

Eel River Cleanup - October 29

The 25th annual Eel River Cleanup will be Saturday, October 29th. Arrive any time between 9 am and noon at Pioneer Bridge where Eel River Road crosses the river, 5 miles north of Potter Valley. It's a fun event, with lunch and snacks provided by the Potter Valley Tribe. Click here for more information.

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

August 2016

You have probably noticed that the flow in the river has decreased, it has!

On Friday, July 15, 2016 PG&E, in response to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission variance order, reduced the flow in the East Branch of the Russian River from 75 cfs to 25 cfs. Potter Valley Irrigation District was consulted prior to this request and reluctantly agreed because we were out-voted by the various agencies involved.

Letters filed with FERC on this matter are linked below:

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

April 2016

During a normal rainfall spring like this year, the top gates on Scott Dam will be closed the first week in April. That means Lake Pillsbury will be able to store a portion of future storm events and snow melt. In April 2015 the lake was below the spill crest and we were already irrigating. We only need to store an additional 18,000 acre feet to reach full capacity at 75,000 acre feet. Keep in mind that since our rains started in December 2015 over 410,000 acre feet of water has already flowed through Lake Pillsbury.

During the same time frame 10,700 acre feet has been diverted through the PV Project.

The prospects for farming and fisheries are looking up !

Our frost season has been light so far. The old saying still applies, 10% chance of frost through the 10th of May. PVID is setup to run water if needed and still handle a thunder storm event.

The wet weather has slowed our pipeline projects but many other infrastructure repairs and replacements are being completed. We have two water tenders on duty now and will bring on the other two as weather and customer demand dictate.

Steven Elliott, Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

The two day Eel River Watershed Tour is scheduled for April 28th- April 29th

The Eel River Watershed Tour will start on the morning of April 28th at 8 a.m. at Yokayo Wine Company in Ukiah ( 301 West Lake Mendocino Drive) where participants can park personal vehicles. Transportation will be provided.

The tour travels north to Highway 162 and travels east toward Round Valley. Along Highway 162, a number of stops are made to discuss relevant information about the Eel River Watershed. Once the tour reaches the town of Covelo, the tour continues east to view the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Eel River and the Black Butte River. The tour then backtracks into Covelo and travels north up the Mina Road to view the North Fork of the Eel, the Van Duzen River, Ruth Lake on the Mad River and additional relevant locations. The first day of the tour concludes in Humboldt County for an overnight stay in Fortuna. The next morning, the tour continues to the estuary of the Eel River and returns south on Highway 101 where stops are made to discuss the South Fork of the Eel as well as other related watersheds.

Please be prepared to bring lunch for the two days as well as snacks and beverages. Ice Chests will be provided for food storage. Hotel reservations are required and are the responsibility of the tour participants. Please call the Fortuna Best Western Country Inn at (707) 725-6822 to make reservations for the night of April 28th. When making reservations, please specify that you are with the Mendocino County Farm Bureau group to receive the group rate of $ 84.99 plus tax. Please attempt to make reservations by March 31st in order to receive the group rate and please observe the hotel 24 hour cancellation policy if applicable.

The group normally goes to dinner together at a restaurant close to the hotel and a buffet breakfast is provided by the hotel for the morning of April 29th.

Please bring comfortable walking shoes and appropriate clothing to contend with varied weather conditions that can be seen from inland to the coast. Also please note that restroom stops are only available at certain locations along the tour route.

Due to limited space and arrangements needed for travel, please RSVP to the Mendocino County Farm Bureau as soon as possible at (707) 462-6664 if you would like to attend either tour. Farm Bureau members and invited guests are given priority when making reservations.

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

January 16, 2016

Dear Potter Valley,

We have made it through one of the driest water years on record. We need to applaud the combined effort of farmers, ranchers, Potter Valley Irrigation District Board and staff, PG&E, and a multitude of environmental and fisheries resource agencies. Their management of the limited water resource stored in Lake Pillsbury by Scott Dam was truly commendable. The water supply for farming, fisheries protection and infrastructure concerns were all addressed during the low water conditions at the dam.

The long irrigation season in 2015 following the previous two years of drought did take a toll on farms and ranches in Potter Valley. Some farmers chose to fallow some of their pasture and irrigated only what was necessary to survive. The long rotation interval between irrigations made for smaller yields. Ranchers had to move livestock off range land to pasture for lack of feed much earlier than normal. Vineyards kept vines alive with their drip irrigation but didn't achieve a normal root zone depth irrigation. The extended irrigation interval was a factor here as well. PVID is attempting to assess the losses that have occurred due to a multitude of drought related factors. We will publish those findings at a later date.

Looks like we might actually have a winter this year! Potter Valley has received 22" of rain and a snow pack is building within the Lake Pillsbury drainage as of 1-5-16. Lake Pillsbury is as full as it can get with the top gates open on Scott Dam. The top gates are historically closed on the first of April each year. These gates can be closed early in March if we don't receive sufficient rain or snow pack. The State Division of Safety of Dams, along with PG&E and the projected long range weather forecasting from NOAA, will make that determination. It is this snow pack that helps to keep the lake level higher going into the summer and ensure water is also available to supplement flows during drought conditions to improve fisheries habitat in the Eel River when needed. Without this stored water the upper main stem of the Eel River would have been but a trickle for many months in 2015. Let's hope this winter puts down the snow we need to bring the PV Project flows for the East Branch Russian River back to normal in 2016.

The PG&E Potter Valley Project is currently shut down for the replacement of a large section of the wooden pipeline connected to the two steel penstocks that deliver water to the generators. They are bypassing only 22 CFS as allowed by a FERC approved variance. The required minimums to the East Branch Russian River and PVID will remain in place until project completion which is projected to be prior to March 15, 2016. Unfortunately, this year, with Lake Pillsbury storage level being above the target storage curve due to the early rainfall, the PV Project could be diverting up to their maximum rate of 270 CFS for power generation. We must remember though, maintaining the infrastructure of the Potter Valley Project will help insure the continued flow of water for beneficial use in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Marin Counties. This includes environmental needs as well.

Just a reminder, please maintain a record of each irrigation. A calendar works well for logging the start date & time and the stop date & time.

Steven Elliott, Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

September 16, 2015

Potter Valley Irrigation District, and our water customers, have been successful in holding our water demands to an absolute minimum. We have made this effort collectively to minimize the economic losses, and maximize storage in Lake Pillsbury to stay above the monthly Target Storage Levels that were established by the Potter Valley Drought Variance Working Group. PVID would like to thank all of our farmers and ranchers for their continued cooperation in helping to insure we have water available to see us through the remainder of the 2015 season.

On September 1st the target storage level of water in Lake Pillsbury was established at 18,000 acre feet (AF). The actual storage ended up being 19,340 AF.

Our October 1st target storage level to meet is 14,000 AF. PVID is confident, with the continued conservation efforts of all water customers, we will be able to continue delivery of water in the same manner as we have been this summer. PVID expects, and encourages, water demand to decrease between mid September and October 15th . Please keep in mind that on October 15th the PVID contract water delivery will drop to 5 cubic feet per second (CFS). Additional water availability will be determined by storage levels in Lake Pillsbury at that time. Who knows, it might even RAIN.

Steve Elliott, Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

2015 Eel River Cleanup: Saturday, October 17, 2015

Come one, come all! All volunteers are welcomed to the 24th annual Eel River Cleanup. Enjoy the river and do good. Arrive any time between 9am and noon at Pioneer Bridge, north of Potter Valley on Eel River Road at the Eel River. Rain will cancel. More...

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

July 17, 2015

This is a water status update of available water to PVID as of 7-17-15. The Target Storage Levels in Lake Pillsbury, in acre feet (AF), as developed by the Potter Valley Drought Work Group, have been met up to August 1, 2015. The target storage level set for September 1, 2015 is 18,000 AF. As of July 17th, Lake Pillsbury Storage was 26,661 AF.

As of July 17, we have 45 days to September 1st. The average daily water release from Pillsbury is 160 AF. This equates to approximately 7,200 AF of use. 26,661 AF minus 7200 AF equals 19,461 AF. 1,461 AF above the September 1st target storage level of 18,000 AF. Water deliveries through the month of August are expected to continue as they have been. We will continue to report our water status as the season evolves. Pears and grapes seem to be about three weeks early this year and irrigated pasture is working toward a second cutting.

As a reminder, per PVID Bylaws, The Board of Directors of Potter Valley Irrigation District will not tolerate water running off of your fields. If, after notification by the Superintendent, the water runoff is not addressed, water delivery to that property may be turned off until the next rotational delivery.

Steven Elliott, Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Water Year Reclassified as Dry

Due to the present drought situation, PVID has been in communication with Pacific Gas & Electric, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Friends of Eel River, Round Valley Indian Tribe, and Sonoma County Water Agency in an effort to draft a variance proposal to FERC that we hope will go into effect by May 15, 2015. This group of agencies will be known as the Potter Valley Drought Working Group. This action will move the Eel River, and the East Branch Russian River into a dry year classification rather than normal, and help protect the PVID Contract water delivery. Lake Pillsbury storage is in jeopardy of being below 10,000 acre feet (minimum safe pool) by September if we don't conserve now.

The following data will help explain where we are now, and where we hope to be by November 1, 2015.

On May 1, 2014 storage was 68,625 AF and on May 1,2015, one year later, storage was only 42,969 AF

Lake Pillsbury Water Projections, in acre-feet
DateProjected StorageTarget Storage Level
July 1 32,299 26,000
Aug 1 25,857 22,000
Sept 1 19,633 18,000
Oct 1 13,899 14,000
Nov 1 10,000 12,000

The Variance flows if approved by FERC at the Dry Year releases in Cubic Feet/Second:

E-11= Below Cape Horn Dam = 9 cfs
E-11 = Buffer flow = 3 cfs
E-16 = EBRR = 25 cfs
E-16 = buffer flow = 3 cfs
E-16 = PVID = 50 cfs

As the summer progresses the Potter Valley Drought Working Group will meet bi-weekly to address storage levels in Lake Pillsbury and consult if target numbers are not being met. These meetings will help determine how to further adjust flows if necessary. FERC will receive monthly progress reports. The drought variance will be in place until Dec 1.

If storage in Lake Pillsbury falls below the target storage level set for each month then it can be expected that reductions in the EBRR flow will be made. This could immediately reduce the amount of water available to PVID by 20 cfs. This would leave PVID with only 50 cfs instead of 75 cfs as is normally needed during periods of peak demand. If this happens, PVID expects to be able to deliver your normal CFS rate but at an extended rotational delivery schedule. This increase in rotational schedule is estimated to extend delivery intervals by 25% to 30% longer. PVID will notify everyone if this change is required.

Please remember, we are in a drought of record. PVID Bylaws must, and will be, strictly enforced.

Chronic and excessive tail water running off your field will be grounds for termination of water delivery. The Board of Directors will be the final authority in this matter. Remember, while water is running off your field it is considered wasting water, and there will be other customers waiting for it!

Please, feel free to contact one of our Directors or the Superintendent with any questions. Printable PDF version

Potter Valley Irrigation District water status update

June 20, 2015

Dear PVID Water Customer,

The recently formed Potter Valley Drought Working Group, whose members are Pacific Gas & Electric Company, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Round Valley Indian Tribes, Sonoma County Water Agency, Friends of the Eel River and Potter Valley Irrigation District, have been meeting every two weeks to discuss the monthly target storage levels in Lake Pillsbury.

Our efforts to hold all releases from Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury to the Dry year classification instead of normal have been successful so far in meeting the target storage levels and we will see the current flow rates continue at least until August 1st. Those target storage levels are listed below.

JULY 1st ------- 26,000 AF AUGUST 1st ---- 22,000 AF SEPTEMBER 1st -------- 18,000 AF OCTOBER 1st ---14,000 AF NOVEMBER 1st -12,000 AF

The Dry Year flow rates are determined by the FERC license and are, in large part, flows required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect habitat. Currently the total flows required for release below Cape Horn Dam are 12 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 77 cfs through the Potter Valley Powerhouse for PVID and the East Branch Russian River. Total releases from Lake Pillsbury are now approximately 89 cfs or about 180 acre feet (AF) per day. If we stay below 200 AF use per day from Lake Pillsbury for the remaining 102 days to October 1, 2015, it will require approximately 20,400 AF. As of June 20, 2015 there was 31,360 AF of storage in the lake. PG&E has set a minimum pool of 10,000 AF to protect the outlet and service structure at Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury. At the current release rate, and if it doesn't rain, only 1,000 AF would be available in Lake Pillsbury above the 10,000 AF minimum pool after October 1st to meet the remaining minimum flows required below Cape Horn Dam at Van Arsdale Reservoir, and East Branch Russian River.

Because of this, further reductions in the diversion rates through the Potter Valley Project may be required. This would further reduce the amount of water available to PVID. During a normal water year PVID would be able to use 70-75 cfs during periods of peak demand resulting in a rotational delivery to customers of 10 to 12 days. This year, due to the drought reduced flows, we have been averaging 60 cfs which has increased our delivery rotation to between 14 and 16 days. It now appears that this delivery interval may be extended out to 18 or 20 days during August and September.

We will report any further reductions to the diversion flows if this becomes necessary. Please check the PVID website at www.pottervalleywater.org.

Please monitor your water closely, and use only what is absolutely necessary.

Kenneth Stroh,
President of the Board
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Groundwater 101

On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Mendocino County Water Agency and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service will hold an educational forum on groundwater at 5:30 pm in the Board of Supervisors Chambers. The speaker will be Thomas Harter, a hydrologist with UC Davis. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and will have the opportunity to ask questions. More information

Water Rate Increase

The contract price that Potter Valley Irrigation District (PVID) pays to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has recently been renegotiated, which will cause a rise in water rates. A letter with the new rates has been sent out to all customers.

April 10, 2015

The 2015 Mendocino County Farm Bureau Water Tours Have Been Scheduled and Reservations are Now Being Accepted

The one day Potter Valley Project Tour is scheduled for April 23rd

The tour will begin in Potter Valley and will travel to the PG&E Power House where PG&E representatives will discuss the history of the Potter Valley project and the Power House. From the Power House the tour continues to Scott Dam to discuss Lake Pillsbury and a lunch break is taken along the lake. After lunch the tour heads over to Van Arsdale Reservoir to view the fish screen and the Eel River side of the Potter Valley Project diversion. We may also be able to tour the fish counting station at Van Arsdale, depending on coordination with the Department of Fish and Wildife.

The tour will begin at 8 a.m. in Potter Valley and should conclude around 4 p.m. Tour participants are asked to meet in the gravel parking lot located across the street from the Potter Valley Irrigation District office which is located at 10170 Main Street in Potter Valley. Private vehicles can be left in the parking lot and transportation to the facilities will be provided.

Please bring a lunch, snacks and beverages. An ice chest will be provided for food storage as needed.

All participants must wear long pants and closed toed shoes. Safety glasses and hard hats are required to be worn on all PG&E properties and these will be provided.

The two day Eel River Watershed Tour is scheduled for April 30th- May 1st

The Eel River Watershed Tour will start on the morning of April 30th at 8 a.m. in Redwood Valley at 9790 East Road where participants can park personal vehicles. Transportation will be provided.

The tour travels north to Highway 162 and travels east toward Round Valley. Along Highway 162, a number of stops are made to discuss relevant information about the Eel River Watershed. Once the tour reaches the town of Covelo, the tour continues east to view the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Eel River and the Black Butte River. The tour then backtracks into Covelo and travels north up the Mina Road to view the North Fork of the Eel, the Van Duzen River, Ruth Lake on the Mad River and additional relevant locations. The first day of the tour concludes in Humboldt County for an overnight stay in Fortuna. The next morning, the tour continues to the estuary of the Eel River and returns south on Highway 101 where stops are made to discuss the South Fork of the Eel as well as other related watersheds.

Please be prepared to bring lunch for the two days as well as snacks and beverages. Ice Chests will be provided for food storage. Hotel reservations are required and are the responsibility of the tour participants. Please call the Fortuna Best Western Country Inn at (707) 725-6822 to make reservations for the night of April 30th. When making reservations, please specify that you are with the Mendocino County Farm Bureau group to receive the group rate of $ 79.99 plus tax. Reservations must be made by March 31st in order to receive the group rate and please observe the hotel 24 hour cancellation policy if applicable.

The group normally goes to dinner together at a restaurant close to the hotel and a buffet breakfast is provided by the hotel for the morning of May 1st.

Please bring comfortable walking shoes and appropriate clothing to contend with varied weather conditions that can be seen from inland to the coast. Also please note that restroom stops are only available at certain locations along the tour route.

Due to limited space and arrangements needed for travel, please RSVP to the Mendocino County Farm Bureau as soon as possible at (707) 462-6664 if you would like to attend either tour. Farm Bureau members and invited guests are given priority when making reservations.

December 17, 2014

Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Dear Potter Valley,

Looks like we might actually have a winter this year! Potter Valley has received 20.28 inches of rain as of 12-18-14 and Lake Pillsbury is as full as it can be with the top gates open on Scott Dam. The top gates are historically closed on the first of April each year. These gates can be closed early in March if we don't receive sufficient snow pack on Hull Mountain. The State Bureau of Safety of Dams, along with projected long range weather forecasting from NOAA, will make that determination. It is this snow pack that helps to keep the lake levels higher going into the summer and insure extra water is available to increase flows to improve fisheries habitat in the Eel River. Let's hope winter puts down the snow we need to bring the PV Project flows for the East Branch Russian River back to normal in 2015.

The PG&E Potter Valley Project is currently shut down for a major valve replacement project between the large wooden pipeline and the two steel penstocks that deliver water to the generators. They are still bypassing the required minimums to the East Branch Russian River during this construction. The construction is scheduled to be complete prior to March 15, 2015. Unfortunately, this year, with Lake Pillsbury storage level being above the target storage curve due to the early rainfall, the PV Project could be diverting up to their maximum rate of 270 CFS for power generation. We must remember though, maintaining the infrastructure of the Potter Valley Project will help insure the continued flow of water for the many beneficial uses for over 500,000 people and the environment from Potter Valley to Marin County.

Potter Valley Irrigation District will move into the 2015 water season with a new water purchase contract with PG&E. This contract is designed to take us through and beyond the current FERC License date of 2022. PVID Board will be discussing the new customer water rate schedule in the near future.

This is all I have for now. Be safe, be kind, and listen to one another.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL.

Steve Elliott

October 1, 2014

23rd Annual Eel River Cleanup: Saturday, October 11

The Eel River Cleanup attracted 81 volunteers and removed trash and debris from 12 miles of river. Pictures and commentary here. (4 MB PDF)

The cleanup was sponsored by the Potter Valley Indian Tribe, Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority, Solid Wastes of Willits, and Mendocino County 4-H.

Original flyer.

August 15, 2014

Superintendent
Potter Valley Irrigation District

Dear Potter Valley,

Pear harvest is well underway in Potter Valley. Some early Sparkling Wine grapes are already being picked.

Water is still available under the dry year flow rate through the Potter Valley Powerhouse. The normal flow is 125 CFS this time of year. This year the total flow is 75 CFS and will continue through September 15th. On September 16th the total flow will increase to 85 CFS. On October 16th the flow will drop to 30 CFS. PVID may request Post Harvest Irrigation flows from 5 CFS, up to 50 CFS, if needed from October 16th through October 31st. As of November 1st PVID contract water drops to 5 CFS only. PVID water license #5245 allows for flows on the west canal as needed, if available, through November 15th.

WE are in a drought... the Potter Valley Irrigation District does not have its normal flow of water available to draw from.

HOWEVER, COMPARED TO OTHER REGIONS OF CALIFORNIA, INCLUDING OUR NEIGHBORING VALLEYS, WE ARE DARN FORTUNATE TO HAVE THE WATER WE HAVE. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS FOR PEOPLE TO WASTE IT.

EXCESSIVE TAIL WATER RUNNING OFF YOUR LAND CANNOT BE TOLERATED. PVID BYLAWS SAY SO.

Also, a few of you might consider being a little more patient and understanding...

This could be so much worse!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another note:

The Irrigation District canals and levees have been experiencing considerable damage from livestock. Repairs are required on a regular basis. We would like to encourage everyone to develop alternative sources for stock water. The Mendocino County Resource Conservation District may be able to help. Their phone number is 707-462-3664.

PVID Water Availability Status

As of April 1, 2014, the status for our section of the watershed is "Dry" (rather than "critical"), thanks to the late spring rains that filled Lake Pillsbury. In a typical season, Lake Pillsbury would fill and spill several times over; this year, we were fortunate to get it to fill once. PVID expects to have the same water availablity for the 2014 season as 2013. More information is available in this letter from March 20.

Water conservation and vigilance remains critical.

Lake Mendocino, very dry in October 2013
Lake Mendocino, October 2013. The slope on the right is the lake side of Coyote Dam.

2013 is a record dry year

The calendar year of 2013 was a record dry year in most of California. Ukiah received 7.50" of rain in 2013; the previous record low was 14.01" in 1976. An average rainfall year is 35". Even typically rainy locations like Eureka and Santa Cruz saw dramatically low rainfall - 42% and 16% of normal, respectively. Santa Cruz received only 4.78" of rain in 2013, shattering the 1929 record of 11.85 inches. (30.04 inches is average.)

NWS has prepared a table showing rainfall totals for several sites around the area. Rainfall at the Potter Valley Powerhouse in December 2013 was 0.82" - compared to 13.95" for December 2012 - just 9% of the 9.06" normal rainfall for December.

There is effectively no snowpack today, January 3, 2014, in the north coast region.

The outlook remains dry for the near future.


22nd Annual Eel River Cleanup

Make plans to attend the 22nd annual Eel River Cleanup on Saturday, October 26th. Arrive at the Pioneer Bridge, 5 miles north of Potter Valley on Eel River Road, for a day of community service and play, any time between 9 AM and noon. We will be cleaning up a 12 mile stretch of the river from Van Arsdale Reservoir to Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury.

Bring sunscreen, gloves, trash bags, a water bottle, and anything else you need to enjoy a day on the river.

The cleanup is sponsored by Mendocino County 4-H and Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E will provide a free tri-tip barbeque lunch for all volunteers and a $1000 donation to Mendocino County 4-H. Solid Wastes of Willits will donate all dumping fees.

Over the past 21 years, 1,516 volunteers have picked up 431 cubic yards of trash and 534 tires. The work of volunteers has made a huge difference in keeping this watershed clean and healthy for fish and people alike.

See a report from 2011, including pictures of some of the trash, here.


PVID Updates - June 2013

Potter Valley Irrigation District (PVID) embraces the summer with better than average crops of hay, grapes, and pears. The row crops and livestock are also doing well. With the drier than average April and May, we on the East Branch Russian River find ourselves regulated by a dry spring exclusion under the 2004 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order. To conserve storage in Lake Pillsbury the release down the Eel River, and the diversion through the PG&E Potter Valley Project have been reduced for the remainder of the season. PVID retains sufficient water to operate under normal conditions because a small portion of winter water was stored In Lake Pillsbury for the good of the public through beneficial use when needed for electric power generation, agriculture and endangered fisheries.

I would like to introduce you to the PG&E Agency Nightly Report (ANR). This daily report is generated by PG&E to record monitoring of water flows in the Upper Main Stem Eel River, Lake Pillsbury and diversions through the Potter Valley Project. The ANR is a record of compliance with the FERC Order and very complex. I will attempt to outline the basics by referring you to the May Excel Spreadsheet developed by PVID in 2008. This spreadsheet allows us to gain a broader view of the ANR data, and determine the relationship between minimum and actual flows, and their impact on the East Branch Russian River (EBRR) and PVID water rights.

Hope this information provides you with a better understanding of how well the Upper Main Stem Eel River water and the Potter Valley Project are managed with sincere regard for fisheries, and the beneficial needs of the EBRR. Remember that the water leaving Potter Valley is restored in Lake Mendocino. Nearly 500,000 people share the water stored in Lake Mendocino.

The ANR begins with a series of steps that calculate daily index flows (IF), and total cumulative inflows to Lake Pillsbury (CLP). Flow releases from the lake are determined by the relationship of lake level in elevation and the elevation of the spill crest of Scott Dam with the gates both open and closed, including the time of year. With the definitions listed below, the spreadsheet should make sense. Remember, some figures are in AF and others in CFS. You can use this formula to convert CFS to acre feet. [.082625 AF / Hour = 1. cfs] and [cfs x .82625 x Hours run = AF]. One CFS for 24 hours = 1.983 Acre Feet.

Spreadsheet Definitions:

A=Date
B=Lake Pillsbury actual maximum storage in acre feet (AF) at top of dam with gates closed.
C=Actual lake storage (AF).
D=Target storage curve is the lake storage level that must be met before a release above the minimum.
E=Tracks the actual amount of storage above or below the required storage curve in AF.
F=Actual lake level elevation. 1900.00 is the spill crest of Scott Dam.
G=Is the daily total cumulative inflow (CLP) into the lake water year starting October 1st through September 30th. In acre feet (AF)
H, I= Are the Index Flow calculations of inflow rate into the lake to gauge minimums and CLP.
J=E-2 is the gauge measuring actual releases from the lake at Scott Dam in CFS.
K=E-2 minimum cubic feet per second (CFS) that must be released to meet downstream minimums.
L=E-11 is the gauge measuring actual flow being released below Van Arsdale Dam in CFS.
M=E-11 minimum required release below Van Arsdale Dam in CFS.
N= E-11 Amount being released above the minimum in CFS.
O=Is the minimum to be diverted through the Project for the East Branch Russian River (EBRR) in CFS.
P=I The maximum release for PVID at any given time of year under the PG&E Contract in CFS.
Q=E-16 is the gauge measuring diversions through the Project minimum in CFS.
R=E-16 Actual release through the Project.
S= E-16 Amount above the minimum release through the Project in CFS.
T, U, V, W=Used to calculate the accretion (inflow) between Scott and Van Arsdale Dams in CFS.
X, Y= Date.
Z= PVID total contract water use as measured by PG&E computer at the Project tailrace weirs E-5 and E-6 in CSF.
AA=E-5 is east weir actual use in CFS.
AB=E-6 is west weir actual use in CFS.
AC=Is the calculated accretion (inflow) between Scott and Van Arsdale Dams in CFS.

Van Arsdale Fish Station

Monday, February 11, 2013: A total of 30 steelhead entered the station this past week. The season total stands at 186: (86 male, 100 female).

The Chinook salmon season total stands at 3,471: (1,816 male, 1,120 female, 535 jacks). The station was closed down on December 2 due to issues associated with high flow. The ladder was placed back in operation on December 5. This season total surpasses any prior record for Chinook salmon at this station; records have been kept since 1933. There are no other regular fish counts at any other point in the Eel River system.

On November 18, the single day record was broken: 765 fish were counted!

We've created a new interactive graph of Van Arsdale Fish Counts showing all historical data from VAFS starting in 1933. You can also download the raw data in CSV form, if you wish. The graph makes it easy to compare the counts of the different species and to see how counts have changed over the years.

PVID Updates - February 14, 2013

Potter Valley Irrigation District has lost one of its most valuable employees. Assistant Superintendent Mr. Larry Rogers retired December 31st 2012 after eighteen years of service. He will be sorely missed by all he worked with. Before his departure he was able to pass on some of his experience and customer relations expertise to our new Operations and Maintenance Foreman, Mr. Dennis Keeton. He has worked the past four years as the west side water tender and is a long time Potter Valley resident. He is married with three children and looks forward to the challenges ahead.

The spring frost season in Potter Valley is yet a month away and the dry warm days have allowed PVID to move forward with some of the capital improvement projects within our canals and laterals. Every effort is being made to complete them prior to the need for frost water delivery. Some of those capital improvement projects are listed below, and all are funded entirely with PVID reserve funds designated for capital improvement.

  1. Replacing open dirt ditch lateral #18 with the Installation of 1,300 feet and Lateral #17 with 1,600 feet of 18 inch dia. PVC pipe. These two projects will decrease water loss, improve water quality through the decrease in erosion. They will stop the movement of sediment and other unwanted materials throughout the delivery system, and improve the irrigation on and off time efficiency to our customers.
  2. We are managing the submersed aquatic weed problems in our main canal system through an integrated pest management approach. We use draw down to dry out the canal allowing some of the species to dry out and freeze. We mechanically remove sediments that accumulate in various locations. We also use aquatic herbicide when weed growth has reached a level of infestation that displaces 50% of the delivery capacity of the canal system. Because this is necessary, PVID has contracted with Blankinship & Associates to administer the Pre and Post Biological assessment of our system. We have successfully completed the CEQA review to receive the 5.3 Exception for listing on the State Water Quality Control Board's NPDES Permit. The application and monitoring plans are reviewed annually by the SWCB, DF&G, SWQCB, PG&E, and the PVID Board. We also maintain a full time Pest Control Advisor and Qualified Applicator on staff.
  3. We are currently in the planning stage of rehabilitating 200 feet of old reinforced concrete pipe that would require the removal of above ground improvements including a large redwood tree if we have to dig the pipe up. We will be using a method of pulling a new one piece plastic pipe through the old one called slip lining. This project will also include replacing an open dirt ditch with the installation of 800 feet of 15 inch dia. PVC pipe.
  4. We have a 200 foot long Lennon Flume approved to have the aging wood frame structure replaced with steel in 2013 / 2014. We are also reviewing the possibility of installing pipe in those sections of our main canal where we have problems controlling water loss. We also have the normal maintenance requirements for approximately 400 water control gates.

Everyone seems to be busy, it feels like spring! We still need more snow in the high country to ensure enough late spring and early summer run off to fill Lake Pillsbury after PG&E is allowed to close the gates on top of Scott Dam.

Don't forget to check out the new interactive data chart for salmon and steelhead counts at Van Arsdale on our website.

Efforts by all those involved in the management of the PG&E Potter Valley Project and their work to ensure the continued existence of this irreplaceable water source must be applauded. Their efforts to hold the overall footprint of the PV Project within the Upper Main Stem Eel River Watershed to a minimum so that it mimics as closely as possible the natural run of the river, and that it operates as environmentally invisible as possible yet still provide the electricity and water we have all come to depend on, must also be applauded!

The following is a list of some of the water related issues that PVID is currently involved in.

  1. The Upper Main Stem Eel River Draft Coho Recovery Action Plan.
  2. Stewardship Council Land Stewardship Proposal.
  3. Russian River Frost Water Regulations and Dept. of Fish & Game involvement.
  4. Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission.
  5. Eel River Recovery Project Group.
  6. Education and public information about the Eel River and Russian River watersheds.
  7. Quagga and Zebra Mussel monitoring Program development.
  8. North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) Irrigated Lands Discharge Program.

Steve Elliott, Superintendent


21st Annual Eel River Cleanup

Make plans to attend the 21st annual Eel River Cleanup on Saturday, October 13th. Arrive at the Pioneer Bridge, 5 miles north of Potter Valley on Eel River Road, for a day of community service and play, any time between 9 AM and noon. We will be cleaning up a 12 mile stretch of the river from Van Arsdale Reservoir to Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury.

Bring sunscreen, gloves, trash bags, a water bottle, and anything else you need to enjoy a day on the river.

The cleanup is sponsored by Mendocino County 4-H and Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E will provide a free tri-tip barbeque lunch for all volunteers and a $1000 donation to Mendocino County 4-H. Solid Wastes of Willits will donate all dumping fees.

See last year's report, including pictures of some of the trash, here.

Your help is essential to keep the watershed and our recreation areas clean.

System Status: March 22, 2012

Lake Pillsbury is filling up nicely from the recent rains and is now spilling above 1900' elevation.

Fish counts at Van Arsdale Fish Station are coming in. The Chinook season total stands at 2,436: (841 male, 360 female, 1,235 jacks). 396 steelhead have been counted (136 male, 260 female) as of March 25.

The lack of normal rainfall this winter and spring has everyone concerned. Unlike Sonoma County declaring a critical water year, Potter Valley Irrigation District (PVID) is, and will be, in a DRY year water flow pattern, not critical.

A DRY year is defined by Lake Pillsbury storage and the amount of water allowed to be released through the Potter Valley Powerhouse for the East Branch Russian River and PVID. As of March 15, 2012 that is 35 cubic feet per second (CFS) river flow plus the PVID requested amount up to 50 CFS for a total 85 CFS. This will hold until April 15th at which time the river flow will drop to 25 CFS plus PVID for a total of 75 CFS.

On May 15, the river flow under normal conditions would be 75 CFS river flow plus PVID , for a total of 125 CFS. A DRY year allows for only 25 CFS plus PVID for a total of 75 CFS. If the water year was critical, the river flow would be only 5 CFS plus PVID. We could still receive sufficient rain to move into a normal year flow plan.

We should have sufficient water to irrigate our lands. However, as always, we must stress conservation, and due diligence in the management of all irrigation water. Excessive tail water will not be allowed. The District Bylaws, and the rotational water schedule must be strictly followed. We ask that you coordinate closely with the water tenders for all on and off requests. Remember, the water is always being managed for waiting customers.

If you have questions or problems related to your water please contact Superintendent Steve Elliott. Thank you for your cooperation.

Steve Elliott, Superintendent


Van Arsdale Fish Station

Van Arsdale male steelhead, 2012
Male Steelhead counted at Van Arsdale Fish Station
The Chinook season total stands at 2,436: (841 male, 360 female, 1,235 jacks). A total of 97 steelhead entered the station this past week for a season to date total of 182: (70 male, 111 female).

Steelhead totals are up to 396: (136 male, 260 female) as of March 25, 2012. You can see the historical record of fish counts here.


20th Annual Eel River Cleanup

114 people from Lake and Mendocino Counties attended the 20th annual Eel River Cleanup on Saturday, November 5th. See the full report, including pictures of some of the trash, here.


System Status: September 28, 2011

Potter Valley has had a late wet spring and a relatively mild summer. Unlike a normal year, there was a heavy snowpack on the Lake Pillsbury side of the mountains. This resulted in a much higher than normal snowmelt that continued to fill Lake Pillsbury late into the summer. It has provided an opportunity for PG&E to utilize the water that is stored above the Target Storage Rule Curve for electric power production. The Target Storage Curve is based on historical flows into Lake Pillsbury and it is regulated by the National Marine Fisheries Biological Opinion and the 2004 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission License.

The East Branch Russian River would have a trickle of water today, from the tributaries within the Potter Valley watershed, without the release, and diversion of, stored water from Lake Pillsbury. Normal flows through the powerhouse during the summer, depending on the water year classification, will range between 85 CFS and 125 CFS. This summer, on August 19, 2011, storage in Lake Pillsbury exceeded required levels, and the release through the powerhouse was increased to approximately 200 CFS and this rate will continue until storage again drops to the Target Storage Rule Curve. The increased storage in Lake Pillsbury, due to the winter and spring rains and snowmelt, also allows PG&E to release nearly double the amount of water required down the Eel River below Cape Horn Dam. The natural flow down the Eel River would also be a fraction of what it is today without the water that had been stored in Lake Pillsbury during the winter, spring and into early summer.

This water fulfills the needs of Potter Valley Irrigation District, and others, as it flows to Lake Mendocino. From Lake Mendocino it becomes the main water supply for Redwood Valley, Calpella, Ukiah Valley, Hopland and all of the farms and cities that use it in Sonoma and Marin Counties. It also provides the required migration flows for the protection of salmonids in the Russian River from Ukiah to Jenner.

This year's pear harvest was bleak. Even though there was a large crop it was heavily damaged by a hail storm that lasted for a few minutes in May. The hay crop was pretty good, new calves are being born and the grape harvest is underway. We will let you know how it all turns out!

Steve Elliott, Superintendent


20th Annual Eel River Cleanup:
          Saturday, November 5

Make plans to attend the 20th annual Eel River Cleanup on Saturday, November 5th. Arrive at the Pioneer Bridge, 5 miles north of Potter Valley on Eel River Road, for a day of community service and play, any time between 9 AM and noon. We will be cleaning up a 5 mile stretch of the river from Van Arsdale Reservoir to the Lake County line.

Bring sunscreen, gloves, trash bags, a water bottle, and anything else you need to enjoy a day on the river.

The cleanup is sponsored by Mendocino County 4-H and Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E will provide a free tri-tip barbeque lunch for all volunteers and a $1000 donation to Mendocino County 4-H. Solid Wastes of Willits will donate all dumping fees.

Your help is essential to keep the watershed and our recreation areas clean.


Irrigated Lands Discharge Program

Staff of the Regional Water Board are developing a Water Quality Compliance Program for Discharges from Irrigated Lands in the North Coast Region. The program will address discharges of waste from irrigated lands to waters of the State of California. Examples of irrigated lands include row crops, irrigated pasture, vineyards, and orchards. The program will address human-caused sources of pollution such as tailwater discharges, polluted stormwater runoff, pesticide discharges, degradation of riparian areas, and erosion from production lands, destabilized streambanks, and unpaved roads. The goal is to develop a program that is both protective of water quality and reasonable to implement, while not duplicating existing efforts to protect water quality.

Regional Water Board staff are in the initial stages of developing the program and are committed to involving stakeholders through a formal stakeholder process. You are being contacted because you have been identified as a stakeholder representative that would likely have an interest in participating. The stakeholder process will involve one or more working groups that will provide input to Regional Water Board staff and Board members on the development of the program. The specifics of the stakeholder process will be developed over the next few months and the working group meetings are scheduled to begin in October or November 2011. We plan on sending out a survey in August, the results of which will help further develop the specifics. Please reply to this email if you are interested in participating in a working group.

Another purpose of this email is to gather information about agricultural areas in the North Coast Region, which, as a general description includes all of Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity counties and most or some of Siskiyou, Modoc, Sonoma, Marin, Lake, and Glenn counties. A map showing the specific boundaries of the North Coast Region can be found by clicking on the link below. Staff of the Regional Water Board would like to hear about any existing water quality protection efforts, projects, and/or monitoring efforts in your area. We would also appreciate contact information for local interest groups that you feel should be contacted regarding the development of this program.

Interactive Map of North Coast Region (shown in green in northwest portion of the state)

More information about program development can be found on our website: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/water_issues/programs/irrigated_lands/

If you wish to receive future correspondence about the program, please sign up by checking the 'Irrigated Lands Discharge Program' box for email updates about the program here. We appreciate your interest in this program and hope to hear from you. Please reply to this email or call me at (707) 576-6750 to respond.

Sincerely,
Ben Zabinsky
Water Resources Control Engineer
Irrigated Lands Discharge Program Development Lead
707-576-6750
bzabinsky@waterboards.ca.gov

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403


PVID System Status — May 20, 2011

The weather is becoming more favorable to farming; maybe we'll have a spring after all. Yet, every time we turn around a new storm is found lurking on the horizon.

We just received notice of a new legislative storm front approaching the water industry in California.

Senate Bill 34 is a measure that would develop a fee-based system to pay for costs associated with public benefit water infrastructure projects, including the public share of surface and subsurface water projects and habitat is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee May 4.

SB 34 (Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto) sets up an annual public good charge of $110/acre foot on nonagricultural retail water suppliers, $20/acre of irrigated land n agricultural retail water suppliers, or, $10/acre of irrigated land when the Department of Water Resources determines best management practices are utilized for a particular crop and soil type. Fifty percent of the fees would fund California Water Commission programs and the operation of the Delta Stewardship Council and the Delta Plan. A two thirds majority vote of each house of the Legislature is needed for approval. SB 34 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee April 12 with a vote of 5 to 3 along party lines. The author suggests that this bill is a "work in progress" with stakeholder meetings to follow. The Farm Bureau will be actively involved throughout the process.

We need to voice our outrage against this attack by contacting our legislators now. The following is a list of contacts with a few pointers you can use to increase your chance of being heard.

Potter Valley is starting to harvest the hay crop. The vineyard and pear crops are looking real fine in the early morning sun. PVID is fully staffed and ready for the irrigation season. GOOD LUCK

Steven Elliott, Superintendent


PVID System Status — April 20, 2011

It's been a relatively mild frost season so far. We have delivered 438.06 acre feet of water to customer storage ponds. Some hail damage to the pear crop may be more visible later on in the season. The district main canals are currently set up to manage both water delivery to our customers and rain storm events.

Our construction and maintenance projects have been hampered by the wet spring. We have managed to complete the installation of three main service gates, and the fourth one is in progress. We have replaced sixty feet of 18 inch diameter pipe in lateral #50-3 that provides a landowner access to their property. The maintenance crew is making the first cleanup pass through the lateral system since last fall.

This year has proven to be a very plentiful water year for the Eel River and Lake Pillsbury. Above normal snow pack and near 60 inches of rain have more than filled Lake Pillsbury. In fact, the total inflow into Lake Pillsbury this winter and spring is currently 467,000 acre feet. During the same period of time, seven months, beginning October 1,2010, only 45,944 acre feet of water has passed through the PG&E Potter Valley Project to the East Branch Russian River.

Following the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) guide Lines, 2011 will probably be classified a wet / normal water year. The amount of water being delivered through the PG&E Project to the East Branch Russian River has been held to minimum flows since March 10, 2011. This is because the Lake Pillsbury storage levels cannot attain the RPA required levels. As of April 10th the required storage level actually exceeded the maximum storage capacity of Scott Dam. The total diversion through the Project was being held to 45 cubic feet per second (CFS) and was recently increased to 90 CFS on April 15, 2011. It will remain at that level through May 14, 2011. On May 15th the flow will increase to 125 CFS, and hold at that rate through September 15, 2011.

Steven Elliott, Superintendent


Mendocino County Farm Bureau Water Tours

The 2011 Mendocino County Farm Bureau water tours have been schedules for April; reservations are now being accepted.

A one day Potter Valley Project tour is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20.

The tour will begin in Potter Valley at and will cover the PG&E Power House, Scott Dam, Lake Pillsbury, and the Van Arsdale Reservoir. It may also be possible to tour the fish counting station.

Tour participants should meet at 8 am in the parking lot across the street from the Potter Valley Irrigation District at 10170 Main Street in Potter Valley. Vans will be used to transport participants on the tour. Please bring a lunch and drinks. Participants must wear long pants and closed toe shoes. The tour will take approximately 6 hours.

A two day Eel River Tour is scheduled for April 28-29.

The tour will start at 8 am on April 28 at a location to be determined. Vans will be provided for transportation. The tour heads north to Hwy 162 and travels east towards Round Valley and up the middle fork of the Eel River and the Black Butte River, stopping at various relevant points along the way. The tour then backtracks to Mina Road to view the North Fork of the Eel River, the Van Duzen River, Ruth Lake, and other relevant locations. The first day of the tour concludes in Humboldt County for an overnight stay in Fortuna. The next morning, the tour continues to the estuary of the Eel River and returns south to view the South Fork and other related water sheds.

Participants should bring lunch for both days as well as snacks and drinks and will need to book a hotel room in Fortuna. The group rate is $88 plus tax per room. You must reserve by March 31 with the Fortuna Best Western Country Inn at (707) 725-6822 to receive the discount rate. The group normally goes to dinner together at a restaurant close to the hotel. Bring comfortable walking shoes and appropriate clothing to deal with varied weather conditions.

Due to limited space and arrangments needed for travel, reservations are required. Please RSVP to the Mendocino County Farm Bureau at (707) 462-6664 as soon as possible if you would like to attend either tour.


POTTER VALLEY IRRIGATION DISTRICT SYSTEM STATUS — March 15, 2011

Potter Valley will soon enter the early spring frost season. Seasonal weather patterns drive the actual time of bud break for our pear and grape crops. Historically, our frost season begins about the middle of March and has a 10% chance of an event through the 10th of May. PVID monitors the fruit frost report through the national weather service and locally funded by the Mendocino County Farm Bureau and American Ag Credit.

PVID responds to the frost forecast by making sure our main canals and laterals are prepared to deliver water to customer storage ponds. At the same time, we must be able to control a possible heavy rain storm event to protect the structural integrity of the canal system.

Water available to PVID through our State Water Board Licenses, and PG&E Contract, are controlled by a set of operating guidelines that were established by the National Marine Fisheries Service called the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA). This time of year, the amount of water allowed to be diverted through the PG&E Potter Valley Project, diversion E-16, is regulated by the hypothetical, and predetermined storage level at Lake Pillsbury. Unfortunately, the required storage level on March 8th of each year becomes unattainable. All inflows to the lake spill over the crest of Scott Dam and can't be stored to reach the required level. Therefore, all diversions through the PG&E Powerhouse are held to a minimum of 35 Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) plus PVID requested contract flows, not to exceed 50 CFS, for a total of 85 CFS. Keep in mind, the minimum flow below the diversion point of the PG&E Potter Valley Project at Cape Horn Dam, E-11, must be 140 CFS. Actual flow measured at E-11 today, March 15th 2011, is 2,427 CFS!

Please manage your water deliveries as closely as possible. An extended series of consecutive frost events requires the available water to be rotated between customers as quickly as possible to keep all frost water ponds full.

On another note, PVID is constantly engaged in a capital improvement and maintenance program. We have five main canal service gates listed for complete replacement of all measuring controls. We have completed gate #73 and gate #30 is in progress. Gates #51, #85, and #72 are next. We completed the replacement of a property access driveway culvert crossing the main canal below gate #51. We will be replacing the property access culvert on a service lateral at gate #50-3. The installation of 400 feet of pipe in the open ditch lateral between gates #36-15 and #36-16 is in the design cost phase. The installation of 1,600 feet of pipe in the main canal between gates #D-4 and #12 is in the engineering design phase. We will be replacing three wooden slide control gates on lateral #75 with galvanized steel gates. Future plans for the installation of 200 feet of pipe in the main canal above gate #70 to control leakage is being surveyed and prioritized as a future project. Busch Creek Flume support frame structure is being reviewed to develop the procedure and method of replacement.

Our annual maintenance of hand cleaning the laterals will continue. We have many other projects planned for 2011. If you find something on your property that needs attention, or just have a question about your irrigation system, please contact our District Office. We will help where we can.

Steve Elliott, Superintendent


Record Counts of Chinook Salmon at Van Arsdale Fishery Station

Excellent news for the Salmon returns in 2010:

Chinook salmon return in record numbers to Eel River

By GLENDA ANDERSON

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.

Record numbers of chinook salmon have made the fall run to the Van Arsdale dam near Potter Valley, carrying with them guarded optimism about the future of the threatened species.

As of last week, 2,314 chinook had made their way to the dam, the most to make the fall run since at least 1945, when data on Chinook was first collected, said California Fish and Game biologist Scott Harris.

"It was a good run," he said.

Chinook salmon are on the federal threatened species list. Last year, only about 500 of them reached the dam in the fall. The dam is the farthest point the fish can swim in their trek to the top of the main stem of the Eel River.

Fall chinook salmon runs throughout the state in general appear to be up, based largely on hatchery data. "We've had fairly good returns," said Fish and Game spokesman Harry Morse.

The Press-Democrat also wrote in an editorial:

The reasons for the chinook rebound are probably as numerous and complicated as the reasons for their decline in the first place. But let's give credit to river restoration and habitat improvements that have been made -- as well as a virtual ban on ocean salmon fishing over the past three years.

But give most of the credit to the ocean itself. Experts point to improved food conditions in the ocean as the primary reason for the recovery of chinook salmon, which are on the federal threatened species list. The water agency contends poor ocean conditions in 2005 and 2006 were the primary reason for the drop-off of adult salmon over the past two years.

Chinook salmon are the largest of the salmon and steelhead that return to spawn every year in the Russian River and other North Coast tributaries. Moreover, so much of Sonoma County life -- agriculture, water supply, tourism, etc. -- is inextricably linked to the future of this majestic fish.

Given all that, these increasing fish counts, after precipitous declines in recent years, is something worth celebrating this New Year's eve. But let's also renew our resolve to help the fish continue its recovery. There's more work to be done.

These articles paint a very positive picture of the salmon returns this year, but they don't tell the whole story for the Eel River. The 2,314 Chinook salmon that have returned to date to the CDFG Fishery Station at Van Arsdale only represent the fish returns to 10% of the Eel River watershed.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to extrapolate the Chinook returns at the Potter Valley Project to the entire Eel River system. We cannot be sure of the success of year classes from other Eel River tributaries, and, because no consistent records of returns have ever been kept, no one knows how many fish have returned to the South Fork, Van Duzen, North Fork, Middle Fork or any other tributary of the mighty Eel River. The good news is that we have the data collected since the 1930's at the Van Arsdale site and this year's returns are the highest since those records have been kept!

Interestingly, the returns of Chinook for the Russian, Klamath and Smith Rivers are also extremely high. All of these river systems are very different from one another in terms of impacts from humans and environmental conditions. Chinook salmon spend a relatively small amount of their life in fresh water. This leads one to assume that oceanic conditions, during the marine stage of the life cycle of these fish, were very productive.

From this year's returns we can clearly see that the Potter Valley Project is not the villainous "destroyer of the entire Chinook population of the Eel River" that the Friends of the Eel River would like their members to believe. In fact, these high returns make blaming the low salmon numbers in the Eel River watershed on the Potter Valley Project scientifically impossible to support. It will be very interesting to see how many steelhead return to Van Arsdale this season. We will let you know!