Several points on this, intended to help clarify possible points of action.
– SCWA has full control over storage and releases from L. Sonoma – yet they are apparently not willing to use releases from L. Sonoma to augment flows below Dry Creek to improve water quality. There’s plenty of water there to be used below Dry Creek.
– all of the water diverted from the Russian R to go to MMWD and NMWD are done under SCWA’s water rights to divert, redivert and store water. Water is sold to NMWD (a ‘prime contractor’) and MMWD (a ‘surplus water contractor’) under long-term SCWA contracts.
– SCWA has 75000 af/y of water rights, but have not used more than about 68,000af/y. They are at risk of losing water rights to the extent never used. That is a part of their upcoming water rights application to SWRCB to modify D.1610 (minimum instream flows in the RR) and their stalled DEIR Fish Flow and Water Rights Project, where they are asking SWRCB for another 20+ years to perfect the use of their full 75,000af/y rather than lose it for failure to put it to beneficial use. Eventually, there will be a Revised DEIR for that project.
– under the current “Dry Water Year” conditions, flows in the Eel River below Cape Horn Dam and the diversion are reduced to 3cfs + 5cfs buffer; diversions to Potter Valley Irrigation District are accomplished under their contract w/ PGE (under PGE water rights), and allow PVID to receive between 20 and 50 cfs during the dry season (adjusted by advance notice for water demands); the variance also allows a minimum of 25cfs for E Branch RR users (with remaining water to flow to L. Mendocino). All numbers can be adjusted depending on evolving conditions at L. Pillsbury and fish movement in the Eel.
– it’s always time (ok, past due) for calls to SWRCB for enforcement against illegal and unpermitted diversions from the Upper and Middle Reaches of the RR. SWRCB has long acknowledged that the RR is “over-appropriated”, and there’s been significantly incomplete enforcement against those diversions. SWRCB estimated those losses + losses to connected groundwater amount to ~38,000af/y. That’s more than half of the diversions from the Eel R, leaving the Eel R to mop up after the abuses in the RR.