Sonoma County Gazette, May 2008

Santa Rosa’s river discharge plans just keep coming…..

By Brenda Adelman

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 were listed on the Federal Endangered Species List and Coho was listed on the State list. The Regional Water Board subsequently developed new water quality regulations that would improve conditions for the fish. The other major event, occurring at the time when Santa Rosa was about to embark on a plan to discharge treated sewage into the river at a rate of 20% instead of 5%, a consortium of Geysers steam field companies offered Santa Rosa a very attractive deal to send their wastewater 41 miles up the hill so they could expand steam-field operations, a project that would make Santa Rosa’s wastewater disposal method unique in the nation and later became particularly noteworthy because of the subsequent energy crisis.