Russian River Water Flows Reduced 25%
25 Percent Reduction in Russian River Diversions Ordered by State Water Resources Control Board
The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued an Order responding to the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Temporary Urgency Change Petition for reduced Russian River flows. The Order allows for “dry” year flow conditions and requires SCWA to reduce diversions from the Russian River by 25 percent through October 2, 2009.
"The State Water Board Order will help save water in Lake Mendocino and help ensure there is enough water for the fall migration of chinook salmon - and for Russian River water users, such as the cities of Ukiah and Healdsburg,” said SCWA Director Paul Kelley. “We will need immediate assistance from our contractors and all municipalities along the Russian River, including the business and agricultural communities, in order to meet this Order. Much like the last two years, we have proven that when we work together, we can achieve and exceed water savings for people and fish."
“We will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders along the Russian River on this Order, including the recreational community,” said SCWA Director Efren Carrillo. “The Russian River is a major economic engine for many communities. Impacts to recreational activities that rely on the Russian River must be addressed as we move forward with the Order. We will do our best to protect our economy while protecting the health of the Russian River and environment.”
“The contractors represented by the Water Advisory Committee have every intention to work cooperatively with the Sonoma County Water Agency to achieve the 25 percent reduction goal,” said Rohnert Park City Councilmember and Water Advisory Committee Chairman Jake Mackenzie. “We will be working cooperatively as we have over the past two years to make sure our customers get served water to maintain a high quality of life but at the same time be good stewards of our environment. We must make sure we meet the goals set by the State Water Board in order to protect the salmon populations in that resource important to all residents of Sonoma County known as the Russian River.”
Below are some of the requirements as outlined in the SWRCB Order:
Upper Russian River Flows:
(From confluence with the East Fork of the Russian River to its confluence with Dry Creek)
From April 6, 2009 through June 30, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 75 cubic feet per second.
From July 1 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 75 cfs, if during the period from April 1 through June 30 total inflow to Lake Mendocino is greater than 25,000 acre-feet.
From July 1 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 25 cfs, if during the period from April 1 through June 30 total inflow into Lake Mendocino is less than or equal to 25,000 acre-feet.
Instream flow at the USGS gages at both Hopland and Healdsburg on the Russian River shall be not less than 125 cfs, after a cumulative seasonal total of 200 adult Chinook salmon move upstream past the SCWA Mirabel inflatable dam, unless otherwise directed by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Department of Fish and Game. A lag time of three to seven days for the higher flows to reach Healdsburg is appropriate.
Lower Russian River Flows:
(From its confluence with Dry Creek to the Pacific Ocean)
From April 6, 2009 through June 30, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 85 cfs.
From July 1 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 85 cfs, if during the period from April 1 through June 30 total inflow to Lake Mendocino is greater than 25,000 acre-feet.
From July 1 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at our above 35 cfs, if during the period from April 1 through June 30 total inflow to Lake Mendocino is less than or equal to 25,000 acre-feet.
25 Percent Reduction in Diversions from Russian River:
The Order requires SCWA and other Russian River water users under its water rights (i.e. Town of Windsor, Russian River County Water District and Camp Meeker) to make a 25 percent reduction in diversions from the Russian River to their service area from April 6, 2009 until the expiration of the Order – October 2, 2009. In 2007, the SWRCB issued a similar Order requiring SCWA to reduce diversions from the Russian River by 15 percent. SCWA and its contractors achieved the goal with reducing diversions by nearly 22 percent.
Prohibition of Commercial Turf Irrigation:
As a condition of water delivery to its contractors, SCWA is directed to prohibit the irrigation of commercial turf grass within the SCWA service area for the period of May 1, 2009 until the expiration of the Order – October 2, 2009. SCWA will be working with its contractors to implement this provision.
25 Percent Water Conservation for Sonoma County and Mendocino County Russian River Water Users:
Within 30 days of the date of the Order, SCWA will submit a plan to SWRCB to obtain cooperation and participation of agricultural and municipal Russian River water users to reach a water conservation goal of 25 percent in Sonoma County and 50 percent in Mendocino County for the period of April 6, 2009, until October 2, 2009.
About Lake Mendocino:
Lake Mendocino provides water storage for municipalities and agriculture in the upper Russian River and sustains flows in the upper Russian River during the fall - a critical time of the annual chinook salmon migration. SCWA engineers projected that water levels in Lake Mendocino would drop to levels lower than 10,000 acre-feet which would be the lowest levels recorded since the lake was first constructed in 1959. The reduced flow rates allow SCWA to retain additional water storage in Lake Mendocino and improve the likelihood that adequate water supply will be available in the fall to provide chinook salmon expected to return to the river to spawn.
SCWA is the local sponsor for the federal water projects at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma and has authority to regulate water supply-related releases from these reservoirs to meet the needs of more than 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin counties. A decision by SWRCB in 1986 requires SCWA to release sufficient water from the reservoirs to maintain flows rates above designated minimum values at certain points along the Russian River.
SWRCB Order and SCWA Petition Information:
A copy of the SWRCB Order and SCWA Temporary Urgency Change Petition can be found on SCWA’s Web site www.sonomacountywater.org.
Water Conservation Information:
A list of water conservation tips, programs and rebates are available at www.sonomacountywater.org