Newsletter, November 2012: Endocrine Disrupters; Recycled Water; Estuary Settlement

Dear RRWPC Supporter:

RRWPC’s work is more critical than ever…..
As I write this letter on the eve of one of the most divisive elections of modern time, I am sad that neither presidential candidate has directed a spotlight on the state of the environment.  In fact, until a week ago, little had been said about clean water, clean air, or global warming.  Media commentators mused about possible impacts on the election of an October ‘surprise’.  No one anticipated Sandy: Mother Nature’s revenge!

Many still resist acknowledgment of global warming, even while conceding that the worldwide string of cataclysmic climate events in the last ten years has grown in both frequency and intensity. The devastation can no longer be ignored.

Similarly, in regards to clean water, scientific studies have proven that water quality and stream habitat have been rapidly degrading: fish, frogs, and other aquatic life are disappearing or becoming less viable as species.  Aquatic life forms are exposed to a vast array of toxins and those who enjoy eating fish are thereby exposed as well.  For fifty years the list of toxic chemicals overseen by the Clean Water Act has remained at 125, even as more than 80,000 chemicals have been produced and used world wide with over 2000 new ones introduced each year.  Many of these chemicals are believed to cause difficult and unfriendly diseases.  There is no controversy among most scientists that minute exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals can have major effects.

Regulators fail to respond……
Yet RRWPC has experienced the consistent ostrich reaction by regulators when it comes to the issue of toxic chemicals, even though endocrine disruption is believed by some scientists to be as big a problem for future generations as global warming. Toxins usually cannot be seen and if we don’t monitor regularly, we do not know what is there until results become visible, through obvious serious illness, birth deformities, and species decline.  RRWPC will continue to remind regulators and educate the public as to the seriousness of the problem of unseen toxins. 

Finally, other water impairments are equally damaging to the ecosystem and include nutrient and temperature pollution, excessive sediments from erosive agricultural, timber harvest, and development practices, dissolved oxygen problems, and much more. While regulatory agencies have written 200 page permits for dischargers such as Santa Rosa, the permits are sometimes contradictory and often leave wide gaps of interpretation that allow extensive wiggle room for skirting the spirit of the law.  Furthermore, State government fails to provide adequate funding to actually enforce the permits even where they provide adequate water quality protection.  No one likes regulation and its not a surprise that those who are regulated will do all they can to minimize their effort and expense in this regard.

And, often the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.  The State Board wants water recycling so as to save water in the creeks for fish habitat, but has annually approved low Russian River flows that impair water quality, merely  to serve a project in the Estuary which has been attempted, but never implemented over the last three years.  Low flow must be considered a water quality impairment and RRWPC will continue to do what we can to turn the tide, and at a minimum, we promise to keep you informed.

<>2012 has been a year of great accomplishment for RRWPC……
We played a major role in applying the brakes on AB 2398, a Bill that would have substantively changed California water law.  This Bill would have eliminated categorization of tertiary wastewater as a waste and thereby remove many restrictions (and oversight) on its use.  This Bill is likely to be revived next year.

RRWPC settled our legal action against the Sonoma County Water Agency over their faulty environmental document on the Estuary Project.  The agreement included monitoring for toxins in the Estuary, a coastal access project, equipment for the Seal Watch program, special review of joint impacts of the Estuary Project and the Fish Flow Project, and more.

RRWPC will be tracking many critical issues next year including: Fish Flow Project/EIR (i.e. ‘low flow’), septic regulation issues, especially as they apply to the lower Russian River, new water quality studies on bacteria, temperature, and nutrients, and Santa Rosa’s new discharge permit. This just came out and will be heard in early December.  Please get on our email list to stay informed. This is moving quickly.  We need support.

RRWPC thanks our supporters this holiday season….
This is the time when we thank all who have supported us this past year, including our Board of Directors (Sherrie Althouse, Nichae Blume, Dave Blanchard, Dennis O’Leary, and Brenda Adelman), our numerous mailer volunteers, and all of you who contribute to sustain our efforts.  We thank Diane Spain and the Senior Center for allowing us to use their space.  We thank Mary Anne Sobieraj, Rick Ganns, and Dave Blanchard for their help with our website.

We also thank publisher Vesta Copestakes for her beautifully formatted community newspaper that regularly publishes our work.   The entire paper can be read online at, including past issues.  Because of the Gazette, people far and wide know about life in our community and about water issues in our environment.  Vesta has contributed numerous in-kind donations to RRWPC of her graphic skills, as exemplified by the enclosed donor list.

Last, but certainly not least, the enclosed donor list acknowledges those who have given $20 or more between November 1, 2011, and October 31, 2012.  Because of limited space we could not list everyone’s name, but RRWPC is grateful to all for your loyal support.  Your generosity demonstrates to us how much you care about our work that focuses on Russian River protection.  You make it possible for us to sustain our efforts. Those donations that came in after Oct. 31st, will appear in next year’s donor list.

Please join our action email list!
Some have given us email addresses for our action list for important announcements that come up between mailers, as there have been situations where we needed letters of support on important issues and there was no time to send out by mail.  We promise not to distribute email addresses and use them only for very important announcements and calls to action.  Please put your information on a donor card if you are sending in a contribution, or just send an email to asking to be on list.

RRWPC needs your support!
RRWPC has taken on numerous challenges this last year in addition to the Estuary Project and “low flow” and we anticipate that next year will be very demanding as well.  As already stated, we are in need of donations of any size. Please give as generously as you can.  Also, please pass this information on to other interested parties.   You can contact us at for further information.