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.
RRWPC Newsletter, September 2018: Environmental Estrogens
Endocrine Disrupting chemicals cause reproductive confusion in fish and others….. In 1994, we were intrigued by a short two paragraph article in Science News claiming that male fish swimming downstream of wastewater treatment plants showed indications of being both male and female, as their male sexual organs had produced immature female eggs. What was going on? Months later, RRWPC staged a day long workshop that included presentations by some of the top scientists in the field: including Theo Colborn, Lou Guillette, and Howard Bern. Google their names to learn about their work! Since our conference, Environmental Estrogens: Pathway to Extinction, took place in May, 1995; we have been tracking and writing about this topic ever since. The study of endocrine disruption was brand new then Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, November 2018: Year End Updates
RRWPC is beginning to see positive institutional changes involving the Russian River. Several projects had been in the works for quite a while, and since the fire seem to be turning in a better direction. The fire was a wakeup call forcing local agencies to deal with environmental devastation on a massive scale that taught hard lessons about the fragility and the resiliency of the natural environment. That experience seems to be informing their programs in a positive way.
Fish Flow Project EIR update…..The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) released the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Fish Flow (‘Low Flow’) Project in August, 2016. Comments were due on March 10, 2017. While the Water Agency had been working behind the scenes 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 >>