How to Support Riparian Protection for Sonoma County’s Waters


Please plan to attend one or more of the hearings on riparian protection.  In times of drought our waterways and surrounding lands are particularly vulnerable to degradation, and terribly important as potential areas for recharging our groundwater and protecting our streams.

This is a very important condition to not only protect water quality in our waters of the state but also flow which is becoming more and more critical during the continuing drought.

Mark your calendar & spread the word:

Board of Supervisors hearing
Oct. 21, 2014 (tentative)
Nov. 18, 2014 (tentative)
Supervisors’ Chambers
Sonoma County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive, Room 102A

Be sure to let others know about these important hearings.  Our voices will be needed to inform and encourage good decisions.

have a great week,

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Comment on Dam Questions on CA’s Drought

This reporter doesn’t seem to understand that reservoirs lose water through evaporation, particularly when they get low (and thus warmer).  Other problems include methane production, due to decaying vegetation that is always being supplied by the streams flowing into them and by contributions from the reservoir margins.  They trap nutrients that otherwise would support coastal ecosystems. Unless managed to avoid such effects, they hinder the flushing of downstream river reaches, so that sediment buildup may bury gravelly pools and prevent fish spawning.


Posted in Climate Change Impacts, Environmental Impacts, Groundwater Impacts, Lakes and Resevoirs Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

Some Dam Questions about the California Drought

By Robert Green

Diamond Valley Lake

For Southern Californians, the current record-breaking drought means letting the lawn fade to a trendy golden brown and making sure the hose doesn’t water the asphalt while you’re washing your car. It does not mean wondering whether anything will come out of the faucet and, unlike in the drought of 1977, it hasn’t stopped most restaurants from automatically serving water to their customers. The drought is not a constant presence here. Los Angeles residents are generally environmentally oriented, but they’re feeling the drought less than they otherwise might, in large part because the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California invested ratepayer money in the 1990s building and filling reservoirs. And that’s the model for the future, right? You build the dams and fill them in the wet years to hold water for use in the dry ones. It’s like the three little pigs and their houses, one of straw, one of sticks and one of brick. L.A. is the third little pig. No big, bad wolf is going to blow down our house; or rather, no big, bad drought is going to dry up our water supply. We planned ahead. We spent. We built. We’re ready.

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Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Environmental Impacts, Lakes and Resevoirs Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

Water Zoning Rules Backed

Sonoma County planners approve ordinance on agriculture, development on waterways


Sonoma County planning commissioners Thursday night signed off on a new ordinance spelling out a wide set of regulations that limit agriculture and development along 3,200 miles of streams and rivers.

The controversial changes, decades in the making, would create buffer zones around waterways and protect sensitive plant and animal habitat on roughly 82,000 acres of unincorporated parts of the county. Thursday’s 4-1 vote followed eight hours of sometimes heated deliberation, and sends the regulation to the Board of Supervisors, who are expected to vote on the zoning rules sometime this fall.

More than 70 people packed a county meeting room Thursday, while roughly a dozen others spilled out into the hallway to fill out speaking cards and read opposition letters. Speakers, many of whom were farmers and ranchers, said they were concerned about changes affecting grazing operations, habitat protection areas that extend past the riparian corridor to include tree lines and rules guiding underground wells.

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Western Drought Causes Earth’s Surface to Rise as Groundwater Drops

By Rong-Gong Lin II, LA Times

Another Side Effect of Drought: Land deformations

A Side-effect of Drought: Land Deformations

Drought has altered landscape as it’s depleted 63 trillion gallons of water across Western U.S., study says The West has risen an average of 1/6 inch since 2013 due to lower groundwater, according to scientists Report questions whether loss of groundwater could be triggering more earthquakes on San Andreas fault.

A year and a half of drought has depleted 63 trillion gallons of water across the Western United States, according to a new study that documents how the parched conditions are altering the landscape.

The loss of groundwater, as well as surface water such as reservoirs, has been so extreme that it lifted the West an average of one-sixth of an inch since 2013, according to researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The situation is even worse underneath the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up three-fifths of an inch. Groundwater is very heavy, and its weight depresses the Earth’s upper crust. Remove the weight, and the crust springs upward.

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Opinion: Letter to Editor of Press Democrat on California’s Water Crisis

Re: Editorial, Taking stock of California’s water supplies, 8/29/14

Dear Editor:

“Water flows uphill towards money”
– Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert.

California is the only state – not just Western state – which has no regulatory framework or clear authority to regulate groundwater.  Those with the biggest pumps and the most money take the lion’s share, to the severe detriment of nearby and downstream property owners, our rivers, lakes and streams, and our public trust resources like fisheries.

Property owners, farm bureaus, grape growers and developers are still fighting recent court rulings that have recognized the state’s authority to regulate “connected groundwater,” where pumping has damaging impacts to surface water and water rights.

Well and drilling records are not generally made public. Wells are not metered. At least here in Sonoma County, we are finally developing science-based groundwater management plans, but they are still short on preventing reductions to surface water levels and flows.

The new groundwater legislation just being approved is a start for California, but it leaves overall groundwater basin planning on a long leash and timeline.

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Invitation to Fish Survey Presentation

To Everyone,
You are invited to a presentation on a survey study of fish use by California Tribes during a public State Water Board Meeting. The results could be used for deriving water quality objectives to protect people (including Tribes) who catch and eat fish from California’s waters. Dr. Fraser Shilling of UC Davis will be presenting his survey results to the Board Members of the State Water Board.

The date is Sept 9 , 2014. We will email the meeting agenda with the meeting details closer to the date (meeting agendas can also be found here: where they are posted 10 calendars days in advance of the meeting). You can attend in person in Sacramento (Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento) or you can watch a live video broadcast of the meeting, available at:

Presentation Summary

Tribes have expressed concern that water quality and other water-related decisions tend to lack consideration of tribes’ use of water and aquatic resources.  The State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided funding to UC Davis researchers to collaborate with tribes in discovering the historical and current patterns of fish use.  UC Davis researchers worked with partner tribes to establish an appropriate approach to interviewing tribe members about fish use.

Members of 40 California tribes and tribe groups were surveyed directly at 24 locations, and staff from 10 tribes was surveyed online using standard questionnaires.  Traditional uses of fish were assessed using literature review and surveying of tribe members and staff.  Contemporary uses were assessed using tribe member interviews.  UC Davis researchers found that tribes use fish in similar patterns (fish types and source-waters) as they did traditionally, but not in similar amounts.  Tribes used 26 freshwater/anadromous fin-fish species, 23 marine fin-fish species, and 18 other invertebrate, and plant species and groups of species.  The single most commonly caught and/or eaten fish species group among all tribes was “salmon”, which could include chinook or coho salmon.  The 95th percentile rates of consumption of caught-fish varied by tribe and ranged between 102 grams per day (g/day) (Pomo) and 484 g/day (Pit River).  The rate of fish use (frequency and consumption rate) was suppressed for many tribes, compared to traditional rates, which most tribes attributed primarily to water quantity and quality issues.

If you have questions, please contact Amanda Palumbo or (916) 341-5687.



Amanda Palumbo, Ph.D.

Environmental Scientist

Division of Water Quality

State Water Resources Control Board

1001 I Street, 15th Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916.341.5687

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Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost

J. Leslie/NYTimes

An aerial view of the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, circa 1965. Credit Paul Popper/Popperfoto — Getty Images

An aerial view of the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, circa 1965.  Credit Paul Popper/Popperfoto — Getty Images

THAYER SCUDDER, the world’s leading authority on the impact of dams on poor people, has changed his mind about dams.

A frequent consultant on large dam projects, Mr. Scudder held out hope through most of his 58-year career that the poverty relief delivered by a properly constructed and managed dam would outweigh the social and environmental damage it caused. Now, at age 84, he has concluded that large dams not only aren’t worth their cost, but that many currently under construction “will have disastrous environmental and socio-economic consequences,” as he wrote in a recent email.

Mr. Scudder, an emeritus anthropology professor at the California Institute of Technology, describes his disillusionment with dams as gradual. He was a dam proponent when he began his first research project in 1956, documenting the impact of forced resettlement on 57,000 Tonga people in the Gwembe Valley of present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe. Construction of the Kariba Dam, which relied on what was then the largest loan in the World Bank’s history, required the Tonga to move from their ancestral homes along the Zambezi River to infertile land downstream. Mr. Scudder has been tracking their disintegration ever since.

Once cohesive and self-sufficient, the Tonga are troubled by intermittent hunger, rampant alcoholism and astronomical unemployment. Desperate for income, some have resorted to illegal drug cultivation and smuggling, elephant poaching, pimping and prostitution. Villagers still lack electricity.

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Registration open for the Inaugural Steelhead Summit, Oct. 21-23 in Ventura, CA

Dear Colleagues,

Salmonid Restoration Federation is excited to announce that registration is open for the Inaugural Steelhead Summit, taking place October 21-23 in Ventura, CA.

Click here to view the final agenda. The registration form at the bottom of the agenda can be printed and mailed along with your payment to SRF, PO Box 784, Redway, CA 95560. You can also register online by going to our website and clicking the Registration tab.

Please feel free to print the Steelhead Summit poster and display it at your office.

SRF is planning to offer a no host bar poster session at this event on the evening of Tuesday, October 21. We would welcome your participation. Please email if you would like to present a poster. For planning purposes, we request that you confirm your participation at the poster session by August 15.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in Ventura!

Sara Schremmer
Program Manager | Salmonid Restoration Federation
(415) 672-0385 (cell) | Sara.Schremmer (skype) |

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Comments on Regional Water Board’s Integrated Plan


At the last Regional Water Board meeting – when Flow Impairment was being considered as part of the listing process – the Board recognized that there was a serious problem with flow impairment with our surfaces waters – but – could not justify allowing for Flow Impairment to be a factor necessitating such listing.

The basic argument was  that  “Listing….seems a clunky way to get at the issue.”

The following poses the question of “Clunky-ness” as an inherent aspect of all Regional and State Board programs and policies.

Glunky?  What program do they have that is not “Clunky”?

Dealing with the subject of Low Flows via a listing might seem “clunky” – what other avenue are they suggesting we use.

Are listings for Temperature, Sediment, Nutrients, Pathogens not “clunky”

Are ineffectual Implementing Programs, that lack enforceability (due to lack of clearly stated operational standards – Dairy WDR, Timber WDR, still to be developed WDRs) not “clunky”.

What can be clunkier than a bunch of rivers with no water in them?

Everything is “clunky” – as we are dealing with messy situations.

Listing merely points to the problem the needs attention and remedy.  How you deal with the problem may or may not be “clunky”. – depending on authority and design.

Listing  merely tells responsible agencies and planning authorities that they must look at issue and address it.

When a program or policy to deal with flow issues is derived that is not “Clunky” –  I will eat my hat.



To All,

I want to support Alan’s concerns about the flippant use of the word ‘clunky’ to describe your decision to NOT list flow as a water quality impairment.  The use of that word totally lacks credibility, scientific basis, and does nothing to ameliorate our extraordinary water crisis taking place in all our rivers.  The use of the word ‘clunky’ is of particular concern since Matt himself talked about the causal role of flow in the extensive nutrient impairment of the Klamath River earlier in the meeting on the day you made your determination.  We have three endangered fish species at risk here, the livelihoods of major agricultural operations, a very popular recreation area, all of which represent huge amounts of tax revenue for the State, not to mention the incredible environmental values that living in our area brings to all of us.  We need a much more serious justification for NOT listing this critical element as an impairment.

I want to acknowledge that this is a very thorny and controversial issue. You have limited resources to address flow impairments, but that has never been a cause to stop critical listings before, that I am aware of.  In fact, how many of the listed impairments were supported by past Boards, in spite of complaints they would be too costly for regulated entities to comply with?

Those of you who are current members of this very important Board are intelligent and knowledgable people who were placed in your position because you know far more than the general public about technical and legal aspects of water quality and river functioning.  Your justification for not listing flow as an impairment is very disappointing.  We request that you provide a scientific basis for why it is NOT necessary to place ‘flow’ on the 303(d) list.

Finally, justifications provided thus far are not consistent with many other impairments listed in the past, as Alan points out.  Unless and until the listing occurs, you would be under no obligation to fully address its impacts let alone how you will protect beneficial uses without it.


Brenda Adelman

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