After traveling south for over 80 miles, the Russian River makes a sharp right turn at Forestville and heads west for about 25 miles where it flows into the ocean at the town of Jenner. Mark West Creek and Laguna de Santa Rosa are major watersheds that converge with the Russian River at the river bend.
The ambiance of the lower Russian River has changed relatively little in the last forty years. Visitors come here from all over the world to experience our paradise. The waterway is thickly lined with giant redwoods for most of its westerly course, and summer cabins are hidden on hillsides, riverbanks, and in deep interior canyons. About two thirds of the former cabins have been converted to full time use over the last 25 years.
The Russian River used to be one of the three greatest Steelhead fisheries on the North Coast. Fishermen flocked here from far and wide every winter to fish. It is only in the last fifty years, that their numbers have been decimated, and the Endangered Species Act has stepped in to play a major role in river management. It is one of RRWPC's major concerns however, that proposed projects to save the fish may be too little, too late, and may cause more harm to the watershed than bring protections for the fish.
The river also serves as a water supply source for about 600,000 urban dwellers in Sonoma County and Marin, as well as providing a source of water for extensive grape growing activities throughout the region. This has led to more focus on improved conservation, wastewater reuse, and better management of groundwater resources, to name a few. Yet, there is still much to be done.
And there is a dark side to all this. This area of extraordinary natural beauty and extensive natural resources is also extremely fragile. It is subject to large floods, massive slides, falling trees, high water tables, water quality problems, etc. It is concern for this fragility that has motivated RRWPC to devote our life's work over the last 37 years to preservation of the lower Russian River watershed. This website is testimony to that concern and represents our recent work to preserve it from the influences that would turn it into something less than what it is.
RRWPC Newsletter, May 2020: Fee Increases, Discharge Permits and COVID
Prior to three months ago, the term COVID-19 was not in our vocabulary! The first heading of RRWPC’s January newsletter rhetorically asked, “What’s in the cards for 2020?” The letter then went on to mention that recent worldwide earthquakes and fires, including our own record setting firestorms of recent years, major local floods, and more, has shaken our collective beings. It seemed appropriate at the time to follow with the query: What’s next? What we were really thinking however, was that we had had enough of disasters and were done for a while. The words “novel coronavirus” and, COVID-19, did not yet exist in our vocabulary. Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, August 2020: Very Low Flow Approved for the River
RRWPC hopes this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and secure. We don’t need to focus on uncertainty about the future, but just hope that soon things will turn around and get back to some kind of normal. It is a good time to celebrate the small accomplishments we experience. Lately, RRWPC has been noticing indications that State and County agency personnel whom we deal with on a regular basis, are taking our views much more seriously, and while headway is slow, and often constrained by outdated regulations, we have been making noticeable progress. Bringing about change is a long term process. Read More >>
RRWPC Emailed Newsletter, April 2020: What's Next
What’s in the cards for 2020? It feels like almost an ice age ago since RRWPC last communicated via email. We are currently a month late in getting RRWPC’s second mailer out for the year and it’s looking like it will be another month or two before we can catch up. But we know you understand since it is likely that, like us, you have been consumed by the Coronavirus situation with its many impacts to family, fiscal affairs, work responsibilities, housing matters, health concerns and health insurance, shelter in place, mask creation and designs (N-95 or bandanas?), constant hand washing, six foot separations, diving stock market crashes, meteoric advances and new crashes again, impeachments, elections, and more. Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, November 2019: Year In Review
Regional Board meeting on Pathogen TMDL….
West County wastewater issues were the primary challenge for RRWPC in 2019. It was notable that our local public treatment works (after two floods) had three separate spills that released over one million gallons of raw sewage at two Russian River County Sanitation District (RRCSD) manholes adjacent to Riverside Drive and Vacation Beach pump stations.
Days before the second, and largest flood and spill (February 26th through March 2nd), the Regional Board bestowed their Russian River Stewardship Award to myself for RRWPC’s efforts in protecting Russian River water quality over many years. We were deeply honored by the acknowledgement, but as we would soon need to challenge their response
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RRWPC sends out occasional important action alerts on issues we are tracking. To sign up for email list, please include your name and town and brief description of your concerns about the Russian River to us at RRWPC. You can also help us out by donating to our effort.
Quotes from RRWPC documents or copies of whole documents should include full acknowledgement of group name, website address, title of article or letter, author, and date of work. Unless otherwise noted, Brenda Adelman is author.