Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee ran an insightful article on the Eel River, the looming battle for its waters, and the impact water diversions and other factors have had on salmon and steelhead.
At issue is the re-licensing of the river’s (or PG&E’s) Potter Valley Project which includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago.
For insight on the issue, Bee reporter Susan Sward looked at three other water battles across the state; the Trinity River, Klamath River and Mono Lake. Each of these have had at least one thing in common — CalTrout’s involvement in fighting for adequate flows and a healthy ecosystem for the state’s wild fish populations.
The potential for consensus on the Eel may exist in the respected Eel River Forum, an effort by CalTrout’s Darren Mierau to bring the affected parties together. The forum’s 22 members include the Sonoma County Water Agency, PG&E, the Potter Valley Irrigation District, Indian tribes, state and federal agencies and environmental groups.
Mierau, CalTrout’s North Coast regional manager, told me: “The river needs help. There is such a great opportunity for a huge recovery of the Eel.”
Bridge Creek Project
In other Eel-related news, construction of the half-million dollar Bridge Creek Fish Passage Project began in earnest last week. Over the next several weeks, this project will remove a 200 fo0t section of the North West pacific Railroad Line that runs along the mainstem Eel River near Scotia, CA, along with more than 30,000 cubic yards of the railroad crossing fill materials that has blocked access to coho salmon and steelhead habitat in Bridge Creek for decades. Progress made includes:
- installed a temporary stream crossing
- laid out fish protection and stream dewatering infrastructure (pipes, hoses, etc.)
- removed approved sections of railroad tracks
- began removing fill dirt and rock from the railroad embankment, a task that will take several weeks to complete. Lots of dirt to move!
The project will wrap-up late this summer, in time to welcome home salmon and steelhead into Bridge Creek for the first time in many, many years.