IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION- PLEASE READ
Hello River Friend!
We received an announcement a few days ago (right after mailer went out) on important upcoming meeting on the Estuary Project. Project implementation has regularly failed over the last 7 years and provides rationale for cutting summer river flows by almost half, and possibly causing proliferation of toxic algae. Comments on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) were submitted March 10th and we were encouraged that the State and Regional Boards submitted combined comments (77 pages) calling for new studies, expanded water quality monitoring efforts, and detailed responses to other issues before low flows could be granted. The process of changing water rights was estimated to take several years.
We need a large turnout at the COMMUNITY MEETING ON RUSSIAN RIVER ESTUARY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM which will be held on MONDAY MAY 15TH FROM 6 TO 7:30 PM at the MONTE RIO COMMUNITY CENTER ACROSS FROM THE RIO THEATER. They will allow public comment at the end but we are concerned that they may cut it short. If a lot of people are there to comment, we are hoping they will extend the public speaking time. Please forward this email alert to your own email lists.
Several things have happened in the last month that cause us concern:
- The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) General Manager, Grant Davis, told water contractors that the final EIR should be complete, and possibly approved, by the end of the year. We are concerned this might indicate that they won’t adequately respond to public concerns raised and those of all commenting agencies. We sent him an email asking how he can make this prediction in light of the extensive comments; he didn’t respond.
- Supervisor Lynda Hopkins stated in a recent meeting announcement: “Estuary management is one of the keys to the success of implementing the Biological Opinion.” (RRWPC has gone to great lengths to challenge that point of view, consistently put forth by local National Marine Fisheries Agency (NMFS)). We are concerned that her statement might mean she fully supports low flow. For more information, read our EIR comments at our website at www.rrwpc.org (side bar- home page)
- At a lengthy meeting with the Regional head of NMFS, we requested more involvement in the low flow decision process and was politely told that’s not likely, even though he agrees with most of our assessment about project failings.
Please attend meeting noted above and make some or all of the following points:
- The Estuary Project period goes from May 15 to Oct. 15, and NMFS’s concern for breaching is almost irrelevant because there are very few breachings during that time period. (Breaching involves artificially opening the river mouth and usually happens in fall, winter, and early spring.)
- There are few mouth closings in July and almost none in August, during greatest recreation use and when toxic algae is most likely to occur. (Mouth must be closed to implement lagoon.)
- In May and June the river is almost always over 125 cfs (except during major drought) and low flow is usually a moot concern. (Natural tributary flows contribute to higher flows in spring time which can’t be artificially lowered.)
- Toxic algae is of greatest concern during hot summer days when phosphorus counts and water temperatures are high in most of the lower river.
- Few steelhead in the Estuary (species to benefit from project) have been documented in summer and the few noted seem to be doing well in the salt environment.
Please contact me via email with questions. Keep in mind that officials DO listen to the concerns of the public. High attendance at this meeting is of prime importance. Because some may not have a chance to speak, please email comments before meeting to: Ann Dubay Ann.DuBay@scwa.ca.gov and Lynda Hopkins Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org Also feel free to contact RRWPC with any questions regarding this project.
Brenda Adelman Russian River Watershed Protection Committee P.O. Box 501 Guerneville, CA 95446 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org RRWPC Website: www.rrwpc.org