August 2015 Newsletter

The Russian River appeared broad and full as we photographed from the Monte Rio Bridge recently, facing downstream, however there were clues that it was not. A man was standing with his daughter in the middle of the river; the water came barely to their ankles. The green algae sparkled in the sun beneath the shallow surface of the water.   Many people hung out at the Monte Rio Beach on this hot summer day, but only the dogs could swim there. Then, viewing the river from the upstream side of the bridge, we could see canoes floating among the mats of algae drifting on the water’s surface. In close up, it was not a pretty sight.

Current downstream river conditions and the Estuary Project…..Monte Rio water levels rise when the mouth is closed, but as of mid-August the mouth had been open for almost two months, allowing very low flows. This condition was supposed to contribute to summer mouth closures, but it hasn’t, and the Estuary Management Project required by the Biological Opinion (BO) to create a fresh water environment for juvenile steelhead fish, has not been successfully implemented since BO’s release in 2008. Nevertheless, in spite of excessive phosphorus pollution in the lower river (along with warm water and low flows contributing to possibly toxic algal overloads), the Water Agency moves forward in demanding a permanent 35% lowering of minimum summer flows in the lower river. They have also expressed little concern for toxic chemical pollution, since fishery agencies ignore toxic exposure impacts to fish.