Winery Waste Discharge Meeting


Thank you water protector Brenda Adelman and Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. 


Dear River Supporter:  

On June 8th, the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the State Board asking for a change in their water rights permits to allow for lowering minimum flows in the lower river from 85 cfs to 70 cfs and later possibly as low as 40 cfs.  Flows are already at 88 cfs at Hacienda.  This is the 3rd  driest year (at this point in time) since RRWPC started tracking water flows in lower river in 2004.  We’ve been told that for Mendocino, this is the 3rd lowest in the last 127 years.

Illegal water draws on the Russian River for irrigating wine grapes have been well documented. All wine grapes were dry farmed prior to 1970.

There are low water supply levels in Lake Mendocino now and it is on that basis, and other reasons that SCWA are asking for these extreme reductions in minimum flows. (A minimum flow means that’s as low as it can go before SCWA has to add reservoir flow to keep flow up artificially.)  Decision 1610 calls for 85 cfs during dry rain years and 35 cfs during critical dry years.  Based on their calculations, we are now in a Dry year.  Yet the Biological Opinion calls for 70 cfs during a dry year in order to implement the Estuary Project, which tries to maintain a fresh water lagoon in the Estuary.  While the aim of this project was to establish the lagoon for 1-5 months, that never happened.  Yet SCWA is still required to keep trying.  We don’t believe that any of Lake Mendocino’s water even gets down to our area during drought.  We are hopeful  that recreation and other activities can still function at 70 cfs and because flows are naturally so very low, we feel that’s a practical compromise.  But the TUCP asks to go as low as 40 cfs under certain circumstances (we’ll spare you the details here.) and we believe that is not necessary if Lake Sonoma can fill in the difference.


Friends, we want to keep this message fairly short but we have put up 2 attachments that can fill out the details for you.  One is a relatively short letter we wrote to the North Coast Regional Board.  The other is our comments to the State Board asking them to revise the Petition to allow only for 70 cfs at Hacienda.  (We get some of our water from Lake Sonoma and highly doubt that any of Lake Mendocino’s water, especially in dry periods, gets down to our area.)  We also attach a photo taken recently by a friend at Riens Beach in Duncans Mills.  The algae is proliferating already.

Please write a short or long note to Erik Ekdahl of the State Water Board (see attached letters for mail and email addresses).  If you want to just say you support RRWPC’s letter, that’s fine.  it would also be good for you to write a few lines about how you use the Russian River and why you believe very low flows are not good for recreation or the health of the river.  You can mention the points we make either in your own words or as a quotation from our writings.  Even a very short email message would help.  TIME IS SHORT.  THE STATE BOARD PRIORITIZES EMERGENCY ORDERS.  ONCE THE ORDER IS WRITTEN, THERE’S NO GOING BACK.  IT WILL BE GOOD FOR 180 DAYS.  If you want to send them pictures of algae or any other river problems, please do.  Also, feel free to contact me with questions if you want.


Thank you for helping the Russian River.  We hope you are staying well.  Enjoy those masks!


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