Fiction: The Potter Valley Project diversion is legally, under California water rights law, considered an unreasonable use of water.

Cabernet in Potter Valley vineyard, Oct 2010Recently the Friends of the Eel River petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to review the water rights that PG&E holds for the storage and diversion of water through the Potter Valley Project. They contended that the Potter Valley Project diversion is an unreasonable use of water under California water law. In the petition to the State Water Resources Control Board they stated that "the relatively small benefit gained by the PVP diversion is clearly not worth the severe impacts to the public trust resources on the Eel River" (petition pg 18-19) and they repeatedly refer to the Eel River diversion as "massive". Their arguments are based on a "scientific" report written by Patrick Higgins, which states the Eel River's "once abundant fisheries, including Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and Pacific lamprey have nearly vanished. A primary cause of the collapse is the PG&E's operation of the PVP, a small (9.4 megawatt) and inefficient hydro-electric project...". The SWRCB dismissed the petition (4/29/10) stating, "The State Water Board is not preempted from addressing impacts from the PG&E's irrigation water rights. But, as discussed further below, it appears that conditioning the irrigation rights would not impact the amount of water diverted from the Eel River system to the Russian River system. Therefore, the State Water Board declines to take action on the complaint".