Home is the Lower RiverAfter 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.
RRWPC Newsletter, December 2016: DEIR HearingLow Flow the big river issue for 2016 and future …..RRWPC is happy to report positive news about community efforts thus far to stop the permanent lowering of summer flows to almost half of what the State currently requires. In a nutshell, the 3600-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released August 19th by Sonoma County Water Agency, and a hearing planned for September 13th. The hearing was a disaster, as it started an hour late; staff took almost two hours with their presentation, and there were so many speakers that even with a strict three-minute limit, the scheduled 3 pm meeting lasted until 7:30. Many people had to leave before they could comment.
RRWPC organized a letter writing campaign requesting Supervisors to extend the public comment period and to hold a Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, October 2016: Fish Flow Project & Direct Potable ReuseIn 38 years of tracking water quality issues and reading environmental impact reports (EIRs), Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) recalls only one EIR that surpassed the size, weight and number of volumes of Sonoma County Water Agency’s (SCWA) Fish Habitat Flows and Water rights Project (Fish Flow Project), released on August 19th, 2016.
That was Santa Rosa’s Subregional Long Term Wastewater Project in late 1996, a 24 volume document that cost about $16 million, and proposed as the preferred project 20% wastewater discharges (5% being the previous limit.) into the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Russian River. Because the listing of three salmonid fish species as threatened occurred Read More >>
Sonoma County Gazette, August 2016Low flow on its way….Ready, set, go! Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) is off and running towards permanently lowering minimum Russian River summer flows forever. Once this occurs, the risk of water quality degradation that includes increased algae and possibly toxic algae, is a virtual certainty, along with all the other problems that entails.
The river now suffers from excessive temperatures and excessive phosphorus and the only condition holding algae somewhat in check is summer flows. Yet the Biological Opinion requires minimum flows in the lower river to be cut by as much as 50% between May 15th and October 15th. Minimum summer flows at Hacienda were historically set at 125 cubic feet per second (cfs); the proposed change can bring that down as low as 60 cfs. Read More >>
RRWPC Comments to State on Direct Potable Reuse (Toilet To Tap), 11-23-2016The purpose of this letter is to provide comments on the Report to the Legislature on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse and recommendations from expert and advisory panels on that topic. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on this report.
RRWPC Background….Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation founded in 1980. For about the last eight years, we have been tracking and commenting on the issue of wastewater reuse (specifically regarding tertiary wastewater irrigation) to both your Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. During that time, RRWPC has submitted Read More >>