Low Flow the big river issue for 2016 and future …..RRWPC is happy to report positive news about community efforts thus far to stop the permanent lowering of summer flows to almost half of what the State currently requires. In a nutshell, the 3600-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released August 19th by Sonoma County Water Agency, and a hearing planned for September 13th. The hearing was a disaster, as it started an hour late; staff took almost two hours with their presentation, and there were so many speakers that even with a strict three-minute limit, the scheduled 3 pm meeting lasted until 7:30. Many people had to leave before they could comment. More »
Dear RRWPC Supporter:
In 38 years of tracking water quality issues and reading environmental impact reports (EIRs), Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) recalls only one EIR that surpassed the size, weight and number of volumes of Sonoma County Water Agency’s (SCWA) Fish Habitat Flows and Water rights Project (Fish Flow Project), released on August 19th, 2016.
That was Santa Rosa’s Subregional Long Term Wastewater Project in late 1996, a 24 volume document that cost about $16 million, and proposed as the preferred project 20% wastewater discharges (5% being the previous limit.) into the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Russian River. Because the listing of three salmonid fish species as threatened occurred about that time, and due to much goading from the public, they ended up pumping most of the wastewater to the Geysers. More »
Fish Flow Project (low flow) is about to begin….The long awaited Fish Flow Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), will be released Friday, August 19, 2016, and include a 60-day comment period ending on October 17, 2016. Subsequently, staff will respond to comments before a final version is approved. The project proposes to lower Russian River summer flows up to 50% and will be in effect each year between May 15th and October 15th through 2023 and probably extended through 2040.
The National Marine Fishery Service’s (NMFS’s) Biological Opinion (BO), includes a requirement that Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) reduce lower river minimum summer flows to as low as 60 cubic feet per second (cfs). In the past, minimum flows* between 1986 through 2008 were usually 125 cfs during normal rain years. The Biological Opinion, released in September, 2008, has regulatory powers and neither considered environmental impacts to the river between Forestville and Duncans Mills, nor was ever subjected to public environmental review. More »
Dear RRWPC Supporter:
So many Federal, State, and County decisions will be made this year concerning the Russian River; it’s hard to know where to start our report. Public input has not been welcome lately, as indicated by emergency declarations that eliminated environmental review for many State Orders by Governor Brown. Nevertheless, the water supply crisis on the North Coast has subsided for the time being, and conservation measures at least are now back under the control of local officials. More »
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. More »
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”.