Russian River Low Flow Curtailments Considered at CDFW Meeting

To All,

This article on low flow closures was published by the Ukiah Daily Journal on July 27, 2014.


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold a public
meeting Thursday to discuss a proposed low-flow closure change to the
Russian River and North Central Coast streams.

The Gualala Community Center on Center Street will host the meeting
July 31, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Fish and Wildlife staff will spend time discussing the regulation
change proposal, and then those in attendance who wish to comment will
be allowed to do so. A final recommendation will be made to the Fish
and Game Commission at a meeting in Van Nuys in December, according to
a CDFW press release.

The proposal is to add a low-flow fish restriction to the Russian
River because of the impact of drought conditions to local fisheries
that have occurred in recent years, the press release stated.

The river is the habitat of coastal Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and
Steelhead trout. All three fish species are listed under the federal
Endangered Species Act, while the Coho are also listed under the
California ESA, the press release stated.

“We are trying to bring the Russian River in line with other coastal
streams who have low-flow closures,” said Ryan Watanabe, fisheries
biologist with Fish and Wildlife.

After the past two winters, the department has found the salmon
entering these streams were forced to congregate in larger bodies of
water within the rivers. The concern is that fishermen could easily
harvest the congregating fish out of the deeper areas of the
waterways, according to the press release and proposed emergency
regulatory action by the Fish and Game Commission.

Also, there is an expected decrease in fish eggs and younger fish
within these systems as drought conditions continue to have an impact,
according to proposed emergency regulatory action by the Fish and Game

Russian River and North Central coastal streams have remained open to
fishing after an emergency closure, that was enacted by the Fish and
Game Commission in February, expired at the end of April, according to
the press release.

“We are early in the regulation process,” Watanabe said. “This will
probably be like a year process, so the sooner we start, the sooner we
can get regulations in place.”

Adam Randall

Written comments may be sent by email to, or by mail to CDFW, Bay Delta Region,
Attn. Ryan Watanabe, 5355 B Skylane Dr. Santa Rosa, CA. 95403.

Posted in Salmonid/Wildlife Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts | Leave a comment

State issues new water curtailment orders, plans swifter crackdown on diversions


July 3, 2014

The Russian River, dry lakebed of Lake Mendocino, Friday Jan. 31, 2014

The Russian River pitches and yaws in to the dry lakebed of Lake Mendocino, Friday Jan. 31, 2014 in Ukiah.  (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

State officials on Wednesday issued new water curtailment orders to thousands of users and adopted emergency regulations that allow them to more quickly crack down on people who ignore orders to stop diverting water from drought-stricken rivers and streams, including the upper Russian River.

“Water rights holders who fail to comply with the regulations face immediate fines or administrative actions,” state Water Resources Control Board officials said in a news release.

The action, which included the approval of fines for noncompliant users, came on the second day of board discussion about drought-driven regulations.

During the public hearing the day before, some water users voiced strong objection to the new regulations, particularly measures that allow the state to fine noncompliant users up to $500 a day without a hearing. Those cited can ask for a hearing after they’re fined.

“Due process doesn’t mean you shoot the person and then give them a trial,” said Robert Mehlhaff, general counsel at Naglee Burke Irrigation District near Tracy, the Sacramento Bee reported.

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Obama Administration Agrees to Stronger Protections for Salmon From Pesticides

Fishing and conservation groups praise stronger stream buffers from toxic sprays

This is a huge step forward for the health of our rivers and salmon fisheries. Before this agreement, we lacked effective ways to keep these poisons from entering our rivers and streams. EPA and the Fisheries Service can now continue to work together toward permanent protections that keep pesticides out of our waters. Steve Mashuda, Attorney, Earthjustice June 4, 2014

A coalition of advocates for alternatives to pesticides, conservation organizations, and fishing groups have reached a significant agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agreement restores reasonable no-spray buffer zones to protect salmon and steelhead from five broad-spectrum insect killers-diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl.

“We know our Northwest farmers and growers to be good land and water stewards. In reaching agreement, EPA will now give clearer direction to farmers on how to better protect fish, if and when they choose to use these chemicals near salmon-supporting streams,” said Kim Leval, Executive Director of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), the lead plaintiff on the lawsuit that led to the settlement agreement. “We know, for example, that many fruit growers in the Columbia Basin have already implemented larger buffers with assistance from public and private funding sources. NCAP is committed to working in partnership with affected farmers to develop and implement alternatives to the five insecticides.”

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DWR’s updated Groundwater Information Center

I thought this might be of interest.

have a great week,


If you haven’t had a chance to view DWR’s updated Groundwater Information Center, please click on the following link:

On the site are links to all of the available Groundwater Management Plans (grouped by Hydrologic Region), as well as groundwater level change maps (Dot Maps) for numerous time periods in the Groundwater Data Reports section.  Plus lots of other groundwater-related information, such as the Drought Response report that was published on April 30th; a revised report is being prepared for October 2014.

Also, just last week, DWR made publically available an Interactive Map of Groundwater Information and Data.  For this first release, the contour and color ramp options are limited to the Central Valley, but DWR is working with various local agencies to qualify well data so the contouring and various analysis tools can be expanded to other basins throughout California.  As more data becomes publically available through the CASGEM Program, this will be easier to accomplish.  You can currently view Change in Groundwater Level data for the Sonoma area through Spring 2014.

If you have any comments about the site, feel free to let me know and I’ll forward them on to the developers.  Hope this is helpful as you work towards sustainable groundwater management in your area.

Thanks, Mark.

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Public Trust Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

The attached order pertaining to the Scott River recognizes that entities/counties permitting wells which are hydrologically connected to surface flows must consider the Public Trust, including impacts to surface flows in navigable rivers or impacting navigable rivers. Incidentally, it affirms that the state (SWRCB) can regulate groundwater when that groundwater is interconnected with surface flows.

This order does not address whether the wells at issue are, in fact, hydrologically connected to surface flows.


Our Sacramento judge has issued his ruling, that groundwater pumping
that affects surface flows must be regulated under the Public Trust

Read it and cheer.

This is, to quote our Vice President, a Big F’ing Deal.

It also makes any legislation even more important, that we not repose
trust only in local agencies to protect the Public Trust.


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Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation

Ed Joyce
July 16, 2014

The Scott River in Siskiyou County

The Scott River in Siskiyou County

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County.

Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.

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Posted in Groundwater Impacts | 1 Comment

Latest Data Shows California Drought Gets More Extreme

Ed Joyce
July 17, 2014

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows that extreme drought has expanded in California.

In the July 15 discussion of the national drought, the report shows that much of California is in either in extreme drought (81.85 percent) or exceptional drought (36.49 percent) and “May-September normally dry, there is not much more room for further deterioration, at least during the dry season.”

But then the report goes on to say that extreme drought has expanded in Southern California “east of San Diego to include the mountains, and to cities such as Riverside and San Bernardino.”

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Beautiful river, growing thirst, looming battle over the Eel River

By Susan Sward Special to The Bee Published: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 – 12:00 am Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 – 12:12 am

In the third-largest watershed in California, the Eel River rambles through some of the state’s most stunning landscape. Nothing about the river, with its clusters of redwoods along its sandy banks, hints at the looming battle over its blue-green water.

The Eel River - Brad Finney / Special to The Bee

Brad Finney / Special to The Bee. This is the Eel River, which forms California’s third-largest watershed. But amid the stunning beauty of this river, a battle looms among environmentalists, PG&E, water agencies and a growing, thirsty band of powerful water users. It is a quintessential California drama. Eel River flows west through the Coast Ranges and empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Eureka.

In about three years, though, a federal commission will begin reviewing an application by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to re-license its Potter Valley Project. The project includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago.

That Eel water becomes part of the Russian River flow now relied upon by 650,000 people in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties and by farmers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties who irrigate millions of dollars’ worth of crops. Water users say the diversion project is vital for them. Environmental groups, however, want the project’s two dams removed to restore access to many miles of prime fish-spawning territory on the upper Eel, saying the project’s presence undermines recovery of fish in the river.

This license review follows more than a century of harm – including extensive timber harvesting, the Potter Valley Project dams and destruction of an estuary that functioned as a nursery for juvenile salmon. This has imperiled the river’s fish: The National Marine Fisheries Service has classified coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Eel as threatened.

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Groundwater in California

California is the only western state that does not regulate its groundwater. It’s also the only state that keeps most of its data on groundwater pumping secret.

As Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson pointed out in a Sunday story (“State keeps water well logs secret,” Page A1), California insists on adhering to a wrongheaded, outdated, counterproductive 1951 law that makes well logs and drillers’ reports confidential and unavailable for public inspection. That makes true groundwater management all but impossible.

With virtually every city in the San Joaquin Valley relying on groundwater for all or most of its drinking water, the demands on the underlying aquifers should be public knowledge. Those demands are increasing every day. Many rural residential wells are already dry. Even a few cities are anxious that their wells will continue to draw water.

Since most groundwater basins are connected, and frequently extend beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of cities and counties, the state needs to be involved. But so do residents, and they can’t be if the state keeps the data secret.

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Voluntary Water Conservation Not Working

Hi water savers:

Attached is  RRWPC’s  11 month comparison of Russian River water sales to major contractors in water years 2012-13 and 2013-14, July through May (June’s data will be available in a few weeks).  Also attached is an article stating that Southern CA is far from meeting 20% conservation goal called for by governor. I have seen similar articles for the Bay area and the attached chart indicates it’s true for our area as well.  We believe that high water users should be carefully tracked and charged much higher rates for higher tiers of use.

I’m also including an article emphasizing how little has been accomplished in terms of EPA listing of toxic chemicals to protect human and environmental health and is precursor to regulatory action.  People appear to have developed a false sense of security about water quality and the effort to reuse tertiary and other wastewater without adequate safeguards for environmental safety.  This is cause for concern.  The focus of public health departments is always on acute diseases that are immediately highly visible, as opposed to chronic and developmental health problems to which no cause is directly attributed (such as cancer, heart problems, autism, obesity, autoimmune diseases, etc.).  So agencies hide behind the fact that not enough research has been done to make a causal link for chemical risk. The research is inadequate for the following reasons:

  • People who are doing research on these issues are often denied and marginalized
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical companies have powerful and highly successful lobbies to oppose listings of chemicals.  Also the manufacturers of the products and stores that sell them have powerful motivation to conduct business as usual.  Many of our day to day products we use contain chemicals of concern.
  • Because so little has been done and so much damage has already occurred, we need to be playing catch up, but the problems are often too complex and expensive to address at this point and agencies say they can’t afford it
  • People understandably don’t want to address very difficult and sometimes impossible problems that include finding the specific nexus and timing between contact with toxin(s) and initiation of disease.  Probably in most cases this will continue to be the case.   Therefore messages about the risks of contact with toxins are not being promoted, and when they are (such as CAUTION labels on toxins), they are often ignored.
  • People often don’t relate the health of the environment and their own personal health, even though almost everything they eat and drink is affected by toxins of one kind or another.  We have heard that even organic foods can be irrigation with tertiary wastewater.  That wastewater is only tested annually for 125 toxins out of about 80,000 chemicals on the market.  There are about 1000 identified endocrine disrupting chemicals including most pesticides, herbicides, etc.  THESE ARE SIMPLY NOT MONITORED!  Unfortunately, there has not been a groundswell of SUSTAINED public opinion to force these issues.
  • Risk assessment has traditionally focused on looking at chemicals individually and determining the level of contaminant which is cause for concern.  The assumption has been made over time that low doses are safe.  That is simply not true for endocrine disrupting chemicals, a known scientific fact supported unanimously by members of the Endocrine Society, a world wide organization of endocrinologists.

Brenda  Russian River Water Protection,

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