May 2008: Santa Rosa Wastewater Discharge

May, 2008

Dear Russian River Supporter:

Santa Rosa’s river discharge plans just keep coming…..
Santa Rosa has come a long way since we first started tracking their wastewater discharge plans after the 800 million gallon sewage spill in 1985, 23 years ago.  For about twelve years after that illegal dump, they ignored all pleas to diversify their system, increase conservation, repair leaky collection pipes, and greatly cut back on river discharges.  Instead, they pursued numerous river discharge options that would allow them to greatly increase their dumping of treated sewage into the Russian River.

Then around 1997 two big events occurred.  Three fish species (Coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout) were listed as “threatened” on the Federal Endangered Species List and Coho was listed as “endangered” on the State list. This forced the Regional Water Quality Control Board to develop new water quality regulations that would improve conditions for the fish. (Up to that point, they had simply declared that the river was in fine shape, while conducting very little monitoring to indicate actual conditions.)   At the same time, the Sonoma County Water Agency began consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers and their water supply system came under close scrutiny.  Ultimately, this resulted in greatly diminished supplies in the summer season.