Home is the Lower River
After traveling 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 37 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.
Vacation Beach Sewage Spill
On March 6th, as Chair of Russian River Watershed Protection Committee, I received an email and pictures from one of our supporters and a resident of the Vacation Beach area, expressing her concern about a raw sewage spill near her house (close to the Vacation Beach Pump Station). I quote a little from her note:
“I am trying to find out who is in charge of the raw sewage cleanup and enforcing sanitary regulations. The flood mud at our house is so bad because of this raw sewage. It looked like it was so much more sewage flowing out than ever before and this keeps happening even when the river only goes slightly above flood stage.” In another email she told me that the manhole near her house started pouring out raw sewage on Tuesday afternoon (February 26th, Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, March 2019: Flood, Sewage and AwardSixth biggest flood for Russian River…February’s flood this year was at least 3’ lower than the highest ever recorded in February, 1986, yet the devastation seems as great. Viewing Rio Nido Road from the Fire House around the time of peak flows, it appeared inundated to nearly the same levelas the 1986 flood (almost 49’), about 20’ from the structure. The river hit 45.4’ on Wednesday night (Feb. 27th) and an estimated 2000 buildings flooded. Nearby streets were approximately 5’ to 7’ deep during the flood. About 3500 people had been told to evacuate.
Guerneville’s Post Office got tagged by building inspectors, forcing Guerneville and Rio Nido box holders to drive to Occidental to get their mail (excluding those with regular delivery) Read More >>
Major Septic policy Revisions
Explanation regarding major changes in OWTS Regulation from Permit Sonoma Website:
The main differences from the County’s current septic system policy in the proposed manual include:
· Permit Types. There are three types of permits: new, replacement and repair. New OWTS serve undeveloped properties. Replacement OWTS are for tank replacements and/or dispersal system replacements for developed sites (previously known as a voluntary repair). Repair OWTS allow for the relatively minor work: distribution box, valves, etc.
· Classifications. Class I, II and III classifications would be replaced with Read More >>
RRWPC Comments on Feasibility Work Plan for Monte Rio Waste Disposal Project: August 2, 2018
The second paragraph of the Introduction states that this proposal seeks to determine whether aging septic systems are causing water quality impairments in the lower Russian River in the communities of Monte Rio and Ville Grande. We support the work plan proposal for this purpose. We believe it is still an open question that needs professional exploration through individual septic system inspections by qualified experts who can then determine adequacy before proposed projects are developed. We support targeting all antiquated cesspool systems within 100’ of the river/tributary bank that are not treating septic waste to the required level. Read More >>