As well companies are on overtime to dig new wells for wine and residents truck in water…..“California Coastkeeper Alliance’s lawsuit aims to protect Russian River public trust resources by requiring the County of Sonoma to comply with its nondiscretionary duties as an administrator of the public trust when issuing new water well construction permits for groundwater extraction.”
THIS JUST IN … CALIFORNIA COASTKEEPER ALLIANCE LAWSUIT CHALLENGES THE COUNTY OF SONOMA TO PROTECT PUBLIC TRUST RESOURCES
From the California Coastkeeper Alliance:
Today, California Coastkeeper Alliance filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to compel the County of Sonoma to consider and mitigate impacts to public trust resources caused by groundwater extraction in the Russian River watershed. As the Russian River watershed faces a drought emergency, California Coastkeeper Alliance is working to hold Sonoma County accountable to protect public trust resources and prevent over pumping of its waterways. Everyone will need to do their part to ensure the Russian River maintains sufficient flows through this drought, and that includes restricting groundwater pumping as surface water pumping rights are curtailed.
“Over-pumping groundwater has had and continues to cause significant, harmful effects on the flow of the Russian River and its tributaries,” says Sean Bothwell, Executive Director of California Coastkeeper Alliance. “The current drought only makes this problem worse and restricting surface diversions alone merely drives more groundwater pumping. Groundwater connected to surface waters must also be managed, so we can endure the current drought crisis and be more resilient for future drought extremes. Responsibly regulating groundwater use protects other water users, as well as fish and wildlife”
The Russian River, its tributaries, and the aquatic life that depends on their flows, such as endangered Coho salmon, are protected by the public trust doctrine under the California state constitution. Large, self-sustaining populations of Coho salmon once occupied rivers and streams within the Russian River watershed, but insufficient streamflow has negatively affected the recovery of local salmon populations.
- Nearly a third of the river’s flows vanish between Lake Mendocino and Healdsburg, raising questions about whether excessive groundwater pumping is partially responsible.
- Water managers lack critical information to track water use and improve management.
- If the drought continues, some communities may run dry, requiring water supplies to be trucked in.