Winery Waste Discharge Meeting

Russian River Watershed Protection Committee: Important Meeting Announcement

Dear River Supporters:

Tomorrow I will pick up our next mailer from the printer.  In that mailer I wrote about a meeting coming up soon concerning the County’s new septic system regulations.  Unfortunately, I realized too late that the date of the meeting is the same date that the mailer goes out and you would receive the information too late to attend.  So here is the portion of the mailer that informs you of the meeting.  The rest of the mailer you should have by the end of next week.

(The Board of Supervisors Hearing Room is at 575 Administration Dr. Room 102A in Santa Rosa.  The meeting starts at 8:30 but you might call (707) 565-2241) to see if they can tell you the approximate time the item will be heard.)

On May 21, 2019, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will consider approval of the new Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Regulations and Technical Standards (Enter: Revised OWTS Manual into your computer search engine for documents). This document encompasses new regulations covering the siting, installation, and maintenance of septic systems and is meant to protect surface and ground water resources from bacterial contamination.  If you are living with a system that does not meet current standards, and you need a building permit that expands capacity of your structure, you will be required to also upgrade your septic system to meet the new requirements. Cesspools and redwood boxes will no longer be authorized, but the County will not come on your property uninvited to check, unless a formal complaint is filed.  However, at some point you will probably get a letter from the North Coast Regional Board asking you questions about your system.

Potter Valley Project Status

Yesterday I received an important message about the Potter Valley Project.  We had never discussed this in our mailers because the project is terribly complicated, was located far away, and has an unknown impact on our lower river water supply.  In summer, when flows are lowest, there are so many water users downstream of the project (about fifteen miles northeast of Ukiah), that we figured it was mostly used up when it got to us anyway.  When we wrote our comments on the Fish Flow EIR (low flow), we asked about the amount of flow that comes our way and was told we get ‘some’, but no one seemed to know how much.

The project’s license will be up in 2023.  There were many complicated studies needing to be done by PGE, owners of the project, before the license was renewed (FERC).  Last year PGE announced they wanted to sell the project, as they moved forward in the timely manner with the studies.    Then all of a sudden they announced late last year that they were filing for bankruptcy. That threw everything into chaos.  PGE stopped all studies and the project was declared an orphan (literally).

In any case, a new group has been forming under the guidance of Congressman Jared Huffman, with the intent to try and take over the project.  I received the very informative email yesterday (attached above) and wanted to send it along for those who may be interested.  This is a very significant step.  While it may not have a big effect on us directly in terms of flow, it may have a big effect on water quality.  Stay tuned….


PS: I’ve taken the liberty of also adding a few articles you might find very interesting (and scarry).

Brenda Adelman
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee
P.O. Box 501
Guerneville, CA 95446
RRWPC Website: