August 2013, Newsletter: Santa Rosa Wastewater Discharge Meeting


It feels like summer is passing us by at the speed of light!   But for one very hot week, the weather has been as good as it gets.  Locally the river has been running low, but not totally diminished, and people seem to be having a good time. And RRWPC continues our watchful eyes on new regulatory actions that will impact the river’s future health.

Saga of Santa Rosa’s wastewater discharges continues into 28th year …..

Recently the North Coast Regional Board released Santa Rosa’s revised discharge and reclamation permits for public comment. The permits regulate treated wastewater discharges into Laguna tributaries during winter and also wastewater irrigation practices occurring mostly in summer.  Since the Geysers Project came on line in late 2004, very little has been discharged into the Russian River during winter season.

Wastewater irrigation is really a discharge…..

We have written extensively on the State Water Board’s decision in 2009 to ease water shortages by promoting widespread reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation purposes.  This translates into about 2.3 billion gallons of Santa Rosa’s treated wastewater applied in summer to urban areas by both Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park. The irrigated wastewater represents about a third of Santa Rosa’s annual total and contains many unregulated chemicals and compounds that can pollute our creeks.

This irrigated wastewater is intended to stay on land and allow it to be taken up by crops or evaporated into the atmosphere, but for occasional small amounts that accidentally escape.  Yet there is significant evidence (especially in Rohnert Park) that a substantial amount of runoff, poorly monitored and inadequately controlled, ends up in our water quality impaired tributary streams and then empties into the Russian River.