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 2013: Sewage or Recycled Water?Down the Drain: ‘Treated Sewage’ or ‘Recycled Water’? Words have the power to conjure up all kinds of feelings for good or ill, such as “treated sewage” or “recycled water”. Most people would never dream that these disparate terms represent the same product.
Over the years, there has been this subtle and intentional shift in language to persuade the public to accept exposures to treated wastewater in everyday life. After all, it looks and smells the same as potable, and even experts can’t tell the difference. Some officials and politicians have even tasted the local chemical concoction to certify it’s high quality. Over the years, what used to be ‘treated sewage‘ became ‘treated effluent’, then ‘wastewater‘ or ‘treated wastewater‘, and finally ‘recycled water‘, this latter having entirely removed the ‘yuk!’ factor. Yet little has changed in the content of the product.
Current treatment of the raw sewage is better than it used to be, and probably the term ‘treated sewage’ is no longer fair, but ‘recycled water’ is very misleading, since of the approximately 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 125 are regulated. Read More >>
November 2013 Newsletter: Wastewater Irrigation Permits for Santa Rosa and Rohnert ParkDear RRWPC Supporter: If the contents of your mailbox look anything like ours this time of year, you have somewhere between 3 to 15 daily donation appeals from national, state, and local nonprofit organizations, most doing important work and providing needed services. Yet, RRWPC requests your special attention this season in acknowledgement of our 35 year history of tracking water quality and quantity issues in the lower Russian River.
2014 promises to be a busy year for RRWPC…. RRWPC will be following many critical issues next year including: Fish Flow Project EIR (i.e. ‘low flow’), septic regulation issues, especially as applied to lower Russian River, new water quality studies on bacteria, temperature, and nutrients, nutrient trading, and mandatory conservation policies needed to protect summer flows.
Important Regional Board Meeting November 21st…. This year included two rounds of comments to the Regional Board concerning Santa Rosa’s new discharge permit. Read More >>
Russian River Summer Contractor Use: 2008 – 2012The chart, further on, indicates Sonoma County Water Agency’s contractor water purchases from Russian River over the months of June through September for five years (2008-2012). Numbers represent acre feet for four month period. Unfortunately, it is impossible to explain what percent of any decreases in water use were a result of conservation, since many of the contractors turned to ground water and/or other local sources to compensate for taking less water from river. There may also be other occupancy and use factors that account for lower use. In general, summer use represents about half of the water sold for the year since that is when most people water their gardens. Read More >>
Newsletter, August 2013: Santa Rosa Wastewater DischargeIt feels like summer is passing us by at the speed of light! But for one very hot week, the weather has been as good as it gets. Locally the river has been running low, but not totally diminished, and people seem to be having a good time. And RRWPC continues our watchful eyes on new regulatory actions that will impact the river’s future health. Saga of Santa Rosa’s wastewater discharges continues into 28th year ….. Recently the North Coast Regional Board released Santa Rosa’s revised discharge and reclamation permits for public comment. The permits regulate treated wastewater discharges Read More >>
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RRWPC sends out occasional (seldom more than twice a month and often less) important action alerts on the issues we are tracking. Usually this involves sending letters we provide to key decision makers. Sign up to be on the list by sending an email to RRWPC