Home is the Lower River
After travelling south for over 80 miles, the Russian River makes a sharp right turn at Forestville and heads west for about 25 miles where it flows into the ocean at the town of Jenner. Mark West Creek and Laguna de Santa Rosa are major watersheds that converge with the Russian River at the river bend.
The ambiance of the lower Russian River has changed relatively little in the last forty years. Visitors come here from all over the world to experience our paradise. The waterway is thickly lined with giant redwoods for most of its westerly course, and summer cabins are hidden on hillsides, riverbanks, and in deep interior canyons. About two thirds of the former cabins have been converted to full time use over the last 25 years.
The Russian River used to be one of the three greatest Steelhead fisheries on the North Coast. Fishermen flocked here from far and wide every winter to fish. It is only in the last fifty years, that their numbers have been decimated, and the Endangered Species Act has stepped in to play a major role in river management. It is one of RRWPC’s major concerns however, that proposed projects to save the fish may be too little, too late, and may cause more harm to the watershed than bring protections for the fish.
The river also serves as a water supply source for about 600,000 urban dwellers in Sonoma County and Marin, as well as providing a source of water for extensive grape growing activities throughout the region. This has led to more focus on improved conservation, wastewater reuse, and better management of groundwater resources, to name a few. Yet, there is still much to be done.
And there is a dark side to all this. This area of extraordinary natural beauty and extensive natural resources is also extremely fragile. It is subject to large floods, massive slides, falling trees, high water tables, water quality problems, etc. It is concern for this fragility that has motivated RRWPC to devote our life’s work over the last 32 years to preservation of the lower Russian River watershed. This website is testimony to that concern and represents our recent work to preserve it from the influences that would turn it into something less than what it is.
Sonoma County Gazette, August 2014For California, the drought is worse than serious….. “There’s a drought on, turn the water off!”. This phrase appears everywhere lately. While summer is here, abundant water is not, and living with severely reduced supplies may become the new normal for 2015. The U.S. Drought Monitor designates the whole of California to be severely dry now and there is dire need to stretch our limited supplies as far as we can.
In our watershed, Lake Mendocino is the greatest concern with its water supply pool currently about 38% of capacity (compared to mid-July average of 67.3% for period 1959-2013). Lake Sonoma, which supplies urban water users and the lower river, is in better shape at around 68% (compared to mid-July average of 93.9% for period 1992-2013 ).
While this year is very bad for Healdsburg on north, there is more concern about the possibility of even worse shortages if little rain falls this winter, and perhaps the following winter also. Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, May 2014Anticipated El Nino storms may indicate wet winter to come …. An irony of global warming is the unpredictability of weather patterns such as alternating hot and cold, wet and dry, windy and sultry, etc. While last year we experienced the driest season of 120 years of record, a San Jose Mercury News article on May 8, 2014, stated, “Citing a huge mass of warm water that continues to move east toward South America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its probability for El Niño developing next winter to 78 percent, up from 66 percent last month, and 36 percent in November.” The article then quoted a NOAA scientist as saying it is still too soon to tell how much rain we will get, since El Nino can take place at various intensities. In the meantime…. Governor Brown’s 2nd Executive Order on Drought Actions… This Order predicts extreme drought conditions for this summer and contains twenty requirements aimed to accomplish the following:. Read More >>
New State Order for Recycled WaterRRWPC letter sent to State Water Resources Control Board, May 26, 2014
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation founded in 1980. For about the last ten years, we have been tracking and commenting on the issue of tertiary wastewater irrigation to both your Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. We have been especially concerned about irrigation wastewater runoff in urban areas. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on these Waste Discharge Requirements for Recycled Water Use.
RRWPC represents hundreds of lower Russian River residents, property and business owners, recreationists, etc. who are concerned about water quality and flows in the lower Russian River, one of the most popular summer vacation destinations of the Bay Area. Most of our local economy depends on tourism and any negative impacts on the river from upstream irrigation practices, in combination with very low flows, can have a devastating effect on our river and our economy. Furthermore, our already impaired river Read More >>
Comments on Expansion of Marine Sanctuaries
(Email sent to Superintendent Maria Brown, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, June 30, 2014)
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) appreciates the opportunity to submit comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the northern expansion of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries (DEIS) and proposed new management requirements for both sanctuaries. We attended the hearing in Bodega Bay where we gave public testimony. We reiterate our original comments here and add additional ones….
RRWPC supports the Sanctuary expansion and sees a huge benefit in protection of sanctuary boundaries from offshore drilling. The expansion will also provide benefits through enhanced scientific research and education. In regard to alternatives, RRWPC feels that the boundaries delineated in the Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s original bill are much preferred. We feel strongly that use limitations and protections in force under current Sanctuaries be adopted for the expansion. Read More >>