Sonoma Water is preparing to continue water saving efforts at Lake Mendocino due to low water supply storage levels and lack of significant rainfall to date.
The Russian River basin experienced its third driest year on record for water year 2020 and conditions continue to remain dry.
Lake Mendocino is currently only 55% percent of targeted water supply storage and
Lake Sonoma is 66 percent of water supply capacity.
A water supply management tool currently being used to save water in Lake Mendocino, known as a Temporary Urgency Change Petition, approved by the State Water Resources Control Board earlier this year, will expire on December 27.
With no significant rain in the forecast and Lake Mendocino water supply levels decreasing, Sonoma Water is beginning discussions with the State Water Board and local stakeholders to continue water saving efforts at Lake Mendocino. This could mean temporarily changing Sonoma Water’s water rights to base Lake Mendocino water releases on current water supply levels at Lake Mendocino, and not reliant on Lake Pillsbury cumulative inflow, as required by Sonoma Water’s water right permits and Decision 1610. This management tool would provide more flexibility for how much water is released from Lake Mendocino into the Russian River by matching Russian River minimum instream flows with actual water supply conditions in the Russian River watershed. Current water supply and weather conditions are like 2013. In 2013, Sonoma Water filed a Temporary Urgency Change Petition with the State Water Board requesting similar changes. The State Water Board approved the Petition and the requested changes successfully managed water supply storage at Lake Mendocino during the serious drought conditions that continued through 2014.
Sonoma Water appreciates our community’s water saving efforts. There is never enough water to waste and the more water saved, the more water remains in our reservoirs.