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.
Sonoma County Gazette, April 2016: Fish Flow EIR
Lower flows necessary to accommodate Estuary Project….Given that the Fish Flow Project: Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be released soon, it’s critical that the Estuary Project be viewed in its larger context, especially since this important annual community meeting will occur about two months before the release of that document. For those unfamiliar with the deceptive title, “Fish Flow Project”, that is the name for the project that, if approved, will permanently LOWER minimum summer flows.
The Fish Flow Project would cut flows by about 44% in a normal rain year (Summer flows can go down to 70 cfs at Hacienda if it is approved, rather than current 125 cfs. In drought years, flows can go down much lower). Given that river temperatures are far too warm for cold-water fish in summer, and very high phosphorus levels are documented at all monitoring stations in our area, lowered flows provide perfect conditions for the proliferation of toxic algae. Read More >>
Newsletter: June 2016
So many Federal, State, and County decisions will be made this year concerning the Russian River; it’s hard to know where to start our report. Public input has not been welcome lately, as indicated by emergency declarations that eliminated environmental review for many State Orders by Governor Brown. Nevertheless, the water supply crisis on the North Coast has subsided for the time being, and conservation measures at least are now back under the control of local officials.
Recycled Water Use Order to be adopted soon….RRWPC has been tracking the Proposed General Order for Recycled Water Use that will be discussed on June 7th by the State Water Board. RRWPC believes current regulations are too lax as they allow extensive wastewater irrigation of schoolyards, parks, playgrounds, etc., where young children can be exposed to unregulated contaminants that might affect their health and development. Extensive runoff into Read More >>
Sonoma County Gazette, January 2016
Conflicting needs: drought, conservation, and inadequate housing….2015 has flown by so rapidly, we barely caught our breaths and now it’s gone. First and foremost, the year was marked by drought. Media filled us with daily messages to save water, exchange grass for cash, take shorter showers, turn off water when we brush, etc. It was even suggested that the dog be allowed to lick your dishes clean.
Contractor Conservation a great success….It worked! Each of Sonoma County Water Agency’s (SCWA) major contractors had been assigned conservation targets by the State Water Board. Because of extraordinary citizen efforts, targets were met and even exceeded by a significant amount. But now water rates are going up to maintain water infrastructure and cover costs of water delivery to compensate for decreased use. (Contractors include Santa Rosa, Petaluma, North Marin, Sonoma, Valley of the Moon, Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Windsor.) Read More >>
Newsletter: March 2016Important issues heating up now….Many of the issues RRWPC has been tracking for years are now becoming more active. They don’t fit our current mailer schedule and we decided a special mailer was necessary to keep you informed. We would much prefer to send brief email notices when appropriate, but many supporters have not yet shared email addresses with us. Please consider joining our list if not already on. Simply put your email address on our donor card, (donation not required), or simply send us a note to email address above. (To assure your privacy, RRWPC never shares our lists for any reason and we carefully limit number of messages sent out.)
Annual Estuary Project Community Meeting, Wednesday, April 20th at 6 pm: Monte Rio Community Center
Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), lead agency for implementing the Biological Opinion, will update attendees on progress regarding Estuary Plan as required by the Biological Opinion and representing part Read More >>