Sonoma County Gazette, April 2010

Protest alert for permanent river low flow!

by Brenda Adelman

Over a year ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a Biological Opinion (BO) to institute management changes in the Russian River that would protect three fish species of concern: Coho and Chinook salmon and Steelhead Trout.  While many support efforts to save the threatened and endangered species, the Order did not address many project impacts, such as water quality, recreation and the local economy.  Furthermore, much of the project is a long-term experiment and results may not be known for many years.

Because of very low storage levels in Lake Mendocino, Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) was permitted to temporarily lower flows from 125 cubic feet per second (cfs) to between 35 and 70 cfs in 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2009.  SCWA was also ordered by the Biological Opinion to apply to the State Water Board for PERMANENTLY lowered flows in the Russian River, which they did on September 23, 2009.  The State determined that protests are due by April 12, 2010, BEFORE they conduct environmental review.  There is also a study of water quality by U.S.G.S. that will be released AFTER the protest period has ended.  People are urged to ask for more time to express concerns.