PUBLIC INPUT on Fish Habitat Flows for Sonoma County EIR
Sonoma County Water Agency Releases
“Fish Flow” Environmental Document
The Sonoma County Water Agency released the Notice of Preparation (NOP) today of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) being prepared on the proposed Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project (Fish Flow Project). The purpose of the EIR is to analyze the impacts of proposed changes to flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek, as mandated by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
“The Water Agency is carefully studying potential impacts of changing flows in the river and Dry Creek,” said Water Agency General Manager Grant Davis. “The Notice of Preparation provides people their first opportunity to become involved in this multi-year process.”
The Russian River Biological Opinion, issued by NMFS in September 2008, requires the Water Agency to reduce minimum summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek. Biologists from NMFS have concluded that current flow levels in the Russian River and Dry Creek during the summer are too high for young coho salmon and steelhead.
A 1986 ruling (Decision 1610) by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) requires minimum summertime flows at specified areas of the Russian River and Dry Creek. In order to meet the requirements of the Biological Opinion, the Water Agency must petition the State Water Board to make changes to Decision 1610, as follows:
In the upper river (above the confluence of Dry Creek and the river): Between June 1 and August 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 185 cubic feet per second (cfs) is proposed to change to 125 cfs and between September 1 and October 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 150 cfs is proposed to change to 125 cfs;
In the lower river (below the confluence of Dry Creek and the river): The existing minimum instream flow requirement of 125 cfs is proposed to change to 70 cfs year round;
In Dry Creek: Between May 1 and October 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 80 cfs is proposed to change to 40 cfs.
In addition, the Water Agency is proposing that the State Water Board make other changes, including revising the “hydrologic index” (the measurement of whether the water year is considered normal, dry or critical). Currently, the hydrologic index is based on conditions in the Eel River watershed. The Water Agency is proposing that the index be based on conditions in Lake Mendocino, in the Russian River watershed.
In compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Water Agency will prepare an EIR to provide an analysis of the potential impacts associated with the proposed changes on recreation, wildlife, fisheries, water quality and other subjects. Releasing the NOP is the first step in the environmental process and provides a formal opportunity for public involvement.
There will be three scoping open houses held in November to discuss the proposed project and the subjects that will be evaluated in the EIR. The open houses will be held from 6:00 p.m. -- 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 4th in Monte Rio; on Monday, November 8th in Windsor; and on Wednesday, November 10th in Ukiah. (Specific locations are listed below.)
During the open house scoping meetings, Water Agency staff will be available to answer questions about the project and about the requirements for compliance to CEQA. A court reporter will be available for people to provide formal comments on the proposed scope of the EIR. Public comments on the NOP can also be submitted in written form or by email. The deadline for comments is November 15, 2010. Comments can be submitted electronically by going to www.sonomacountwater.org/rrifr or can be sent to:
Sonoma County Water Agency
404 Aviation Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
The dates, times, and locations of the scoping open houses are:
Open House Schedule:
Thursday, November 4th
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monte Rio Community Center
20488 Highway 116 Monte Rio
Monday, November 8th
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Windsor Town Hall
9291 Old Redwood Hwy Windsor
Wednesday, November 10th
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The Alex Rorabaugh Center
1640 S. State St Ukiah
For additional information, please contact Ann DuBay, (707) 524-8378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at www.sonomacountywater.org.