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Monday, January 16, 2012

Sonoma County Water News

Sonoma County Water Agency 
NEWS Update
January 2012

Bring on the rain!
The weather forecast for next week includes rain! Water Agency officials are cautiously optimistic that next week's rainfall will help keep tributaries to the Russian River flowing. Water supply levels at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, our two primary water supply reservoirs, are approximately 80 percent of water supply capacity. Both Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino rely primarily on rainfall to fill. Lake Sonoma is large enough to store a few years worth of rainfall, but Lake Mendocino is about one third the size of Lake Sonoma and highly dependent on year-by-year rainfall to fill. 

A majority of rain falls within our reservoir's watersheds between January and March. Another key time period for rainfall is in mid-spring, such as April, before the summer heat begins and urban water demand increases.

Another good piece of news is that overall water demand from Water Agency contractors, the cities and water districts that receive drinking water from the Water Agency, decreased significantly from levels of a few years ago. This is in large part thanks to the successful conservation efforts implemented by homeowners and businesses in our community. The bottom line is - the less water that is consumed, the more water we can keep in our reservoirs.

You can stay up-to-date on water supply levels by visiting our website. This page is updated on a weekly basis and is your best source for monitoring water supply levels in our reservoirs. Read More…

Dry weather presents possible threat to coho salmon 
Dry weather over the past month has reduced water levels in tributary streams in the Russian River system presenting an additional hazard for over 100 coho salmon known to be in the river. Low water levels limit access to breeding sites in streams and may expose the fish to the risk of being caught by anglers steelhead fishing in the Russian River. If the dry weather continues there will likely be impacts on coho smolts and juveniles this spring and summer if flows in tributaries become disconnected with the Russian River prematurely. The coho now in the Russian River are among the first returns from the Coho Broodstock Program, a nearly ten-year effort to rescue the Russian River coho from near extinction.

The Water Agency is working with the California Department of Fish and Game and several other agencies on an effort to educate the sport fishing community on accurate identification of the protected coho so they can be released if caught. Approximately 20,000 water resistant cards that graphically display the differences between steelhead and coho have been printed and are being distributed to anglers at locations where fishing licenses are sold and at popular fishing spots.

View the fish cards here. Read More…

Water Agency breaches Russian River Estuary
The Water Agency manages the barrier beach that periodically forms at the mouth of the Russian River near Jenner when water levels increase and threaten low-lying properties with flooding. The Estuary Management Project, which would change the Water Agency's historic approach in the summer months to enhance habitat conditions for threatened steelhead while minimizing flood risk, includes continuing to artificially breach the barrier beach the remainder of the year.

The mouth of the Russian River closed on January 4, 2012, and an artificial breaching event was scheduled for January 9 as water surface elevations were forecasted to approach flood stage. High swells predicted for that evening moved in early, making attempts to open a pilot channel unsuccessful. The high swells were also making it dangerous for workers and equipment. The breaching was rescheduled for Wednesday, January 11, when conditions were forecasted to be more favorable. Water Agency crews successfully breached the barrier beach on January 11 with water surface elevations at 9.2 feet at the Jenner gage. For more information about the Estuary Management Project, visit the Water Agency's webpage. Read More…

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