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March 2016, Newsletter

Important 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 of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) efforts to protect juvenile steelhead.

Sonoma County Gazette, April 2016

Annual Estuary Project Community Meeting

Wednesday, April 20th at 6 pm

Monte Rio Community Center in Monte Rio

Sonoma County Water Agency update on Estuary Project & Jetty Study Report

 

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.

February 2016 Newsletter

What a relief! Our reservoirs are almost full….. Because our weather future is so unknown, we could still use more rain, but for now we can breathe a sigh of relief. Currently the river at Hacienda is energetically flowing at 1770 cfs. As of February 7th, Lake Sonoma was at 95% capacity, and Lake Mendocino at 107%. (The latter number is tricky because the ‘water supply pool’ gets much larger in April and the percentage reserved for flood control drops considerably then.) In order to protect against downstream property damage from floods, Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) reserves part of Lake Mendocino’s winter reservoir capacity for storage of floodwaters. (See SCWA’s website for more information.)

State Revving up Recycled Water Use Programs….The State Water Board is now taking comments on their Draft Water Reclamation Requirements for Recycled Water Use. According to the Notice, “The proposed General Order is intended to further encourage recycled water projects by: (1) acknowledging recycled water as a resource through water reclamation requirements; (2) allowing recycled water programs that are implemented in… Regional Water Board boundaries to be permitted by the State Water Board”.

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.)

November 2015 Newsletter

Where has this year gone?

Though it seemingly began only ‘yesterday’, 2015 now winds down as we take stock of RRWPC’s river protection accomplishments, and look to see where we head next. This year, as always, was filled with addressing various water concerns, including drought and conservation, toxic blue-green algae, excessive phosphorus, new septic and bacteria regulations, issues of toxins in wastewater and our environment, and irrigation runoff. We photographed river conditions, read and commented on lengthy documents, gave testimony to decision makers, actively participated in Sonoma County Water Coalition, wrote six articles for the Gazette, maintained our website and organization, and more.

May 2015 Newsletter

Dear RRWPC Supporter:

You might as well consult a Ouija board if you want to know when the drought will end. In Sonoma County, we have been getting very confusing signals from weather patterns and rainfall amounts the last few years. While the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) claims we are in the fourth year of drought, rainfall numbers don’t necessarily bear that out.

Erratic rainfall averages during the last four years….

Normally, Santa Rosa gets an average of 32” of rain each season. (Santa Rosa’s data is the most readily accessible.) In 2012, Santa Rosa got 37.58” for entire year according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. In 2013, they had 4.85”, in 2014: 34.66”, and in the first five months of 2015: 4.33”, although we do not know what November and December will bring. So according to the numbers, in the last four years we have had two normal years, one very dry year, and this year is definitely lower than normal but may not be nearly as bad as 2013. At this point in 2012 we had accumulated 18.07” rainfall, and in 2014:17.41”, putting us far ahead of this year.