Saturday, June 3, 2023

Letter to the Editor: Please, Urge Regulators to Allow More Water Into Lake Mendocino and the Russian River

Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to matthewplafever@gmail.com. Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication. 

Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.

The Russian River between Hopland and Cloverdale [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Dear Editor

There is an urgent water issue happening now that will make Mendocino County’s water situation much worse. PG&E has filed a request to hugely reduce water flows through the Potter Valley Project which feeds Lake Mendocino. There is an opportunity to comment today through Thursday (6/9/22) only. I am hoping members of our community could write a short comment using the following template and submit it via the FERC website link provided below. The process is you go first to the link and enter your information. They will then send you an email. You click on the link and then paste your comment. You will need to enter docket number P-77-311, then hit “search”, then click on the plus sign to add that docket. Thank you!!


Draft comments (feel free to edit):

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Re: PG&E’s Flow Variance Request Due to Limited Water Availability for the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission No. 77

Dear Secretary Bose,

I am writing as a concerned citizen of Mendocino County regarding Pacific Gas and Electric’s May 13, 2022 request to reduce water flows through the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project.

Lake Pillsbury has 30 thousand acre-feet (TAF) more storage this year to date than in 2021. PG&E has not completed the requested and agreed-upon water quality models to demonstrate that such cutbacks are necessary and beneficial to preserving salmonid populations.

It has been demonstrated that severe water curtailments are detrimental to health and human safety in regard to water availability. Residents of Mendocino County are already suffering under curtailments, as are residents of other communities that are dependent on Lake Pillsbury’s contribution to Lake Mendocino and the Russian River.

I respectfully request you approve PG&E’s request only with the modification of 25 cfs minimum flow in the East Fork Russian River.



Thanks so much!

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Sattie Clark

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  1. The Eel River was never meant to feed and supply the mass growth of Sonoma County or to keep the wine growers in profit’s. Water is scarce and we are far past the tipping point. Why should the natural wildlife suffer so humans can continue to desecrate these tributaries? Time to search for another source and time to allow the Eel River to return to its natural flow and stop subsidizing Sonoma and the wine industry with free water… the antiquated dam does not supply power to Ukiah as it was originally intended… find another source and leave the Eel river to heal from the decades of injury. “Two Basin Solution” is a joke and will only deplete this beautiful waterway to the point of irreparable destruction, if it hasn’t already. I realize this is lost on many as most that are concerned are looking at there profits and care little for being good stewards of the land. Find another solution

    • Could not agree more! Especially since this article comes from wine people from Portland with not even a decade in Mendocino county. They don’t care about their neighbors to the north or the ancient forests the Eel feeds. I will be authoring an opposing letter!

  2. Ok just ask the sky for more water
    Maybe we should grow food and drink the water we do have instead of growing fields of booze grapes and mind altering weed. I know I know the economy…sooner or later we’ll have to choose. You can’t eat money.

  3. Lake Pillsbury has more water?
    So you should able to turn it into a puddle again to build more Panda Express and Chipotle?
    Use lake Sonoma and lake Mendocino till it’s dry,
    You actually have no water right to lake Pillsbury just political power to force PGE’s hand

  4. Sorry Sattie we like the classic Kansas hit “Dust in the Wind” on the Eel side of things. I for one can’t wait for the spring of 2030 with a 50lb bag of native flower seed I’ll donate to spread in January I hope others join me so we can once again make Coyote Valley bloom in her California gold and purple hue for a two page spread in Sunset magazine.

  5. Did Sattie grasp the water issues in the Redwood Valley before buying a vineyard?
    For example, Redwood Valley ONLY receives water from Lake Mendo under an Emergency Use Authorization in place now for decades.
    e.g. RV has ZERO water rights to Lake Mendo.
    PGE’s request to FERC to reduce outflows to the PVP are a direct result of the transformer failure and based on the responsibilities of the FERC license.

    The transformer is THE connection between the Hydro Power Plant and the Grid.
    Meaning PGE is not able to generate power at the site and feed it into the grid.

    Because PGE’s license to operate the Bypass Tunnel of the PVP is specifically and ONLY for power production PGE can NOT legally justify the same volume of water diversion to PVP as under normal operating conditions.

    All the PVP downstream water rights are secondary to PGE’s FERC license to operate the bypass tunnel, as primary; meaning FERC is NOT a party to the water demands, they regulate energy.

    The legal framework of PGE’s FERC license does not require them to take into account other needs or uses for the water bypass.

    FERC may acknowledge and allow this higher outflow rate through some type of emergency use authorization or otherwise, as their purview is much broader than a single license holder.
    There has to be some type of legal framework to do so.
    Though, they may be sued immediately thereafter.

    If PGE kept the normal water levels flowing they would be sued immediately as their license to operate has nothing to do with water diversions to supply towns and communities.
    The licensing for water diversions, and rights to said water, are handled by all the secondary stakeholders and agencies.

    This high flow rate is also a problem for the generating equipment since it is NOT feeding to the grid.
    Same concept on your car…don’t disconnect the battery while the car’s running…your alternator will overheat and burnout very quickly from running at Open-Circuit Voltage levels without somewhere for the power to go.

    “Justadude”…while antithetical to the insular thinking and actions of most small (town) minded folk (fear of different & unknown, ie xenophobia), there is no warrant nor right anyone can legally claim with which to abridge Ms Clark’s rights just because she has only been “here” ~10yrs.
    Get over it. Welcome to the USA.
    She may be new here, but have you afforded your community any volunteer service? Such as acting as a board member for a MAC (RV Municipal Advisory Council)?

    Most Mendo locals have little, IF ANY, real idea of the consequemtial nature of the PVP or how it’s setup legally.
    Can you, in any way, substantiate your claim that she doesn’t “care” for our Eel River neighbors?

    • I wasn’t trying to abridge ms Clark’s rights with that statement. Just letting folks know she’s a modern day carpetbagger.

      Since you asked, I have afforded my community with volunteer service. Your ad hominem about my small mind doesn’t change that 🙂 smh

  6. Too many people and too many straws sucking water out of the Russian river. Presently this is unsustainable, sorry but No extra water due to drought!

  7. Oh ok…so a specific and direct ad hom attack and doxing of Ms Clark without any supporting evidence is just fine? Interesting….

    But somehow my open ended statement about mob mentalities in response to your chosen words isn’t cool? Interesting.

    You reinforce my original point quite well on your own.

    Is wholly your choice to take my statement as an ad hom attack, but it specifically was not so.
    Why so defensive?
    Maybe read with a bit more care before melting that snowflake…or pressing double standards.

    ‘Funny’ (sic) how so many folks can’t live by the rules they expect others to follow…real funny dude

    • You’re cool, not offended or defensive 🙂 I have my opinion about ms Clark and despite your statement it is based in fact…you’re the one that seems defensive about that. I don’t mind, and I’m certainly not offended if you disagree with me. I’m also not setting rules for anyone to follow. You seem to make a lot of assumptions and offer no retort to my assertion that her concern is her water and her business not that of those in the eel watershed. Again…smh…

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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