Introduction: Dry Creek EIR — Flow Impacts
In the past, the dam at Lake Sonoma released water down Dry Creek at excessive speeds that ultimately channelized the creek and caused harm to the young salmonids attempting to swim upstream to their spawning habitat. It flowed fourteen miles to the confluence with the Russian River and was located a few miles upstream of the Water Agency’s diversion facility. To deal with this situation, the Biological Opinion now requires that projects be implememented with complex structural changes to slow the flows in at least six miles (unconnected) of the waterway. This includes the strategic placement of logs and other natural materials to create spawning habitat for the fish.
As of early 2016, one mile has been completed successfully. Two more are being worked on and the environmental impact report released, commented on, and approved thus far for the other four miles. These projects are being developed with the cooperation of private landowners. The National Marine Fisheries Service has offered Safe Harbor Agreements (Landowner cooperation and property access given in exchange for no prosecution in the event of a threatened fish ‘taking’.) for owners who cooperate with the program.
All in all, RRWPC supports this program. We did express some concerns however, about how slower flows will affect the amount of water that is released to the lower river and was disappointed when our concerns were not addressed. We were told that there would be no difference because the amount of water wouldn’t change, only the speed at which it traveled, and the cut off point for the project was before the confluence with the Russian River. Although our concerns remain, it was not our goal to litigate this issue, and we were forced to drop our concerns for now. We will revive them at the appropriate time.
- RRWPC Comments to SCWA, August 24, 2015
- RRWPC Letter to BOS, 11-17-2015: Dry Creek Habitat Enhancement Project
- Lake Sonoma Releases: Dec 2014 – Nov. 13, 2015
Commentaries can be RRWPC’s official submission to regulatory agencies regarding proposed or current projects and for the most part have legal standing as formal comments.