Sonoma Water E-News | August 2020
Conserving Energy During a Heat Wave
On August 14, over 40,000 residents lost power in Sonoma County after the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) directed PG&E to conduct rotating power outages given the strain on the power grid during the statewide heatwave.

We can all do our part to conserve energy:
  • Reduce our electricity use between 3-10 pm: set thermostat to 78 or higher
  • Turn off unnecessary lights & appliances
  • Close windows and doors

More information from the State about this historic heat wave and energy shortages can be found on the CalOES website.
Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District Sewer Trunk Main 
The Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District Sewer Trunk Main Replacement Project is making good progress. Construction is under way on Phase 4B.2.

After this phase is completed, close to 27,000 linear feet of sewer trunk main will have been constructed since the first replacement project in 2003.

Phase 4B.2 project consists of the installation of 2,161 feet (0.4 miles) of 27-inch diameter sewer line beginning at the intersection of Ramon Street and Highway 12 in Sonoma, crossing through Maxwell Farms Regional Park, and ending just north of Verano Avenue.

The trunk sewer main to be replaced is approximately 60 years old and at the end of its life expectancy. The project is being completed under a cease and desist order issued by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board to improve the sewer system’s ability to reliably handle dry and wet weather flows, and reduce sanitary sewer overflows (which occur during heavy rains and can result in wastewater entering local creeks).
2020 Temporary Urgency Change Petition
In response to the third driest year on record in our region and water supply projections that show the potential for Lake Mendocino to decline to critically low water storage levels, the State Water Resources Control Board on July 29, 2020 approved Sonoma Water’s request to provide flexibility in how water releases are made from Lake Mendocino and flows are managed in the Russian River. 

The Temporary Urgency Change Order (Order) allows Sonoma Water the flexibility of reducing Russian River flows to 50 cubic-feet-per-second (CFS) in the upper Russian River and 60 CFS in the lower Russian River. If water storage in Lake Mendocino drops more than one percent below the target water supply storage levels, the Order authorizes Sonoma Water to reduce flows to 40 CFS in the upper Russian River and 50 CFS in the lower Russian River. Lake Mendocino is currently about 2,000 acre-feet above target water supply storage levels. If water levels continue to remain above the target water supply storage by a similar buffer, flows in the upper Russian River would be managed near 70-75 cfs and near 80-85 cfs in the lower Russian River.
Petaluma Aqueduct Relocation Construction
On July 21, Sonoma Water began a critical and time-sensitive construction project to relocate the Petaluma Aqueduct to clear the way for widening of Highway 101. The Petaluma Aqueduct was relocated in the vicinity of Highway 101 where it crosses the SMART tracks in Petaluma. The relocation of the aqueduct was needed accommodate the new highway over crossing at that location (just across the freeway from the Petaluma Outlet Mall).

Ghilotti Construction performed the aqueduct cut and replaced the 33” diameter cement mortar lined and coated steel pipe. The replaced pipe was re-energized and water flow restored that same evening.  

Check out a short video from the construction site about the project.
August is Time to Cut Back on Landscape Water
Use for the Summer
As the year progresses and the seasons change, so do your outdoor watering needs. In our area, July is typically the month when plants have the highest watering needs. Each month thereafter, the watering requirement is reduced. If you have a Smart Irrigation Controller, your irrigation schedule is monitored and modified for you. Other controllers require the user to modify the schedule or apply water budgeting, which is a feature on some controllers that allows run-time changes to be made based on a percentage.
In the month of August landscapes typically need 90% of the water that July needs. If you have an irrigation controller with a water budgeting feature, change the percent feature from 100% to 90% or less. September 1st, change it again to 80% or less. If you need to change your irrigation schedule manually, for every 10 minutes you have it scheduled to run now, reduce the time by 1 minute.

Some other things you can do to reduce your water consumption in the landscape:
  • If you have some areas that need more water than others, consider hand watering the dryer spots instead of running the entire system for longer.

  • If your landscape looks great now, consider reducing your water use by more than 10% and monitor its condition.

  • Consider eliminating or reducing the size of your lawn. Did you know that turf lawns need about three times the water as a low water use plant? For every 100 square feet you replace, you will save about 1,800 gallons per year.

Groundwater July Community Workshops
In July the three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in Sonoma County held community workshops.

The virtual workshops included presentations about what we’ve learned about each basin’s groundwater use and groundwater sources. We also described Sustainable Management Criteria (SMCs), and how they are determined.

The informational presentations were followed by virtual small group conversations to discuss priorities and concerns regarding groundwater levels, groundwater quality, groundwater storage, seawater intrusion, land subsidence and the connection between groundwater and surface water.

The presentations for each Groundwater Basin and Defining Groundwater Sustainability are posted online:
Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions as of August 16.

Lake Mendocino
Target Water Supply Curve:  75,593 acre-feet
Current Storage: 50,431 acre-feet (66.71% of Target Water Supply Curve)

Lake Sonoma
Target Storage Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 192,146 acre-feet (78.43% of Water Supply Pool)

Current rainfall conditions (10/1/19 – 8/15/20)

Average (1894-2019 water years): 36.54”
Current Water Year: 14.67” which is 40.14% of average
Santa Rosa
Average (1950-2019 water years): 30.43"
Current Water Year: 19.14” which is 62.89% of average
Upcoming Events

Please visit for additional information from Sonoma County.

The Board normally holds its regular meetings on Tuesdays, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and will be facilitated virtually through Zoom

  • August 31 at 8:30 am special meeting
  • September 1 at 8:30 am
  • September 8 at 8:30 am budget hearing

NBWA Board Meetings
  • September 11, 9:30 am

Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board Meetings
  • August 27, 2020, 4:00 pm - Petaluma Valley
  • September 28, 2020, 4:00 pm - Sonoma Valley
  • October 8, 2020, 1:00 pm - Santa Rosa Plain
Fact of the Month

English inventor Edgar Ellington decided in 1950 to create a waterproof sock using latex and cotton. But after filling his creation with water to test its quality, he noticed a small stream of water gushing from the side. As he threw the water-filled sock onto the table in anger, it burst — and so a second idea was born. Not long after, Ellington's "water grenades" were the first water balloons to hit the market.
Employment Opportunities

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