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RRWPC Newsletter, December 2016

Low 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 Newsletter, October 2016

Dear RRWPC Supporter:

In 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 about that time, and due to much goading from the public, they ended up pumping most of the wastewater to the Geysers.

RRWPC Comments on Direct Potable Reuse to State Board, 11-23-2016


The 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 comments and attachments on the Recycled Water Policy and the Policy Amendment, the General Waste Discharge Requirements for Landscape Irrigation Users of Municipal Recycled Water (General Permit), the General Order for Recycled Water Use (2014 and 2016), The North Coast Basin Plan Amendment for Recycled Water Use, etc. 


In 2010, the State Water Board required comment letters protesting low flow project before it was fully formulated.  Many responded by sending in sample comment letters provided by RRWPC.  About a month ago the State Board sent out ...

August 2016 Newsletter

Fish Flow Project (low flow) is about to begin….The long awaited Fish Flow Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), will be released   Friday, August 19, 2016, and include a 60-day comment period ending on October 17, 2016. Subsequently, staff will respond to comments before a final version is approved.  The project proposes to lower Russian River summer flows up to 50% and will be in effect each year between May 15th and October 15th through 2023 and probably extended through 2040.

The National Marine Fishery Service’s (NMFS’s) Biological Opinion (BO), includes a requirement that Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) reduce lower river minimum summer flows to as low as 60 cubic feet per second (cfs).  In the past, minimum flows* between 1986 through 2008 were usually 125 cfs during normal rain years.  The Biological Opinion, released in September, 2008, has regulatory powers and neither considered environmental impacts to the river between Forestville and Duncans Mills, nor was ever subjected to public environmental review.

Sonoma County Gazette, August 2016

Low 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