Sonoma Water E-News | January 2021
Sonoma Water Files Petition to Save Water in Lake Mendocino 
On January 7, 2021, Sonoma Water requested a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) from the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to help preserve water supply in Lake Mendocino due to very low storage levels for this time of year. The TUCP was submitted due to drought conditions, severely low storage levels in Lake Mendocino, and a hydrologic index for establishing minimum flows not aligning with the watershed conditions. 

On January 1, 2021, the water supply condition for the Russian River was reclassified as Normal from Dry based on the cumulative inflow into Lake Pillsbury for the water year to date. This designation of Normal water supply conditions does not accurately reflect the conditions and lack of rainfall experienced in 2020 in the Upper Russian River. As measured at Ukiah, recorded rainfall for 2020 was 11.32 inches, which amounts to 31% of the average rainfall (37.01 inches) and the second lowest recorded rainfall since 1893. The TUCP and more water supply update information may be viewed at

“Filing a Temporary Urgency Change Petition is one tool to saving water in Lake Mendocino due to potential drought conditions,” said Sonoma Water General Manager Grant Davis. “Our community can help too by saving water by using water wisely. While there is still opportunity for rain in the upcoming months, we must prepare now for continued dry conditions and implement every tool we can to save water in our reservoirs. Another tool Sonoma Water has implemented is the use of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, or FIRO, which increased Lake Mendocino’s water storage by 19 percent or 12,000 acre-feet last spring. Without FIRO tools being used to manage flood control operations last year under a major planned deviation to the flood control manual, Lake Mendocino would be in a much worse situation right now.”

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership is implementing a rare Winter-time public outreach campaign seeking the community’s help in saving water. The Partnership represents Sonoma Water and its wholesale water contractors, or the cities that deliver drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in the North Bay. 
It's a dry year. Save water with us.
The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership is rolling out a social media campaign to inform water customers of the dry conditions we are currently experiencing. The continued lack of significant rainfall could lead to future water supply shortfalls. The campaign prompts residents to save water now and features the phrase "It's a dry year. Save water with us," along with simple tips to save water (listed below). Please stay informed about current water supply conditions as we progress further into spring.

Save water now by doing the following:
  • Turn off your irrigation system. Plants need much less water during the winter. Manually water only when the soil below the surface is dry.
  • Apply mulch to retain moisture and prevent soil erosion.
  • Run only full loads of laundry or dishes. The dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand.
  • When loading the dishwasher, skip rinsing and scrape food scraps into the compost bin instead of the garbage disposal.
  • Turn off the water while you lather with soap, shave, and brush your teeth.
  • Do not use the toilet as a trash bin. Never flush wipes, tissues, masks, gloves or paper towels.
  • Replace inefficient toilets with new high-efficiency models. Top performing models use just 0.8 gallons per flush.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off patios, decks, sidewalks and driveways.
  • Find and fixing leaks. Check your water meter and perform a toilet dye test.
  • Re-landscape your yard with water smart plants. Look for the label at participating nurseries.
Water Supply Update
As of January 1, Sonoma Water must make releases from Lake Mendocino to manage minimum instream flow requirements in accordance with Normal water supply conditions – which means Russian River in-stream flow requirements have increased and thus releases out of Lake Mendocino must be increased to meet these requirements. The in-stream requirements are mandated as part of Sonoma Water’s water rights permits and State Water Board Decision 1610.

With no significant rain, Lake Mendocino water supply levels are decreasing, and Sonoma Water is discussing with the State and local stakeholders how to continue water saving efforts at Lake Mendocino. The TUCP would temporarily change Sonoma Water’s water rights to determine the water supply condition for the Upper Russian River and associated minimum instream flow requirement on storage thresholds in Lake Mendocino, and not reliant on Lake Pillsbury cumulative inflow. This management tool would provide more accurate determination of the water supply condition in the Russian River and the associated minimum instream flow requirement. In 2013, Sonoma Water used this same water management tool to successfully save water in Lake Mendocino. In late 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.

At this time, no changes are being requested for how minimum instream flow requirements are determined for Dry Creek and the Lower Russian River. Although Lake Sonoma storage levels are below normal for this time of year, that reservoir has adequate water supply to meet minimum instream flows in Dry Creek and the Lower Russian River based on the State Board’s Decision 1610. However, Sonoma Water will re-evaluate supply conditions in Lake Sonoma in the spring to determine whether it is necessary to file a subsequent Temporary Urgency Change Petition to address a significant depletion at Lake Sonoma storage.
Survey Coming for Sonoma Valley
Hazard Mitigation Plan in Sonoma  
The Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District (SVCSD) will release an online survey next month asking for customers input about awareness of natural disasters and the reliability of sanitation facilities. Feedback from customers in the survey will be part of the upcoming draft Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP). Public input on the draft plan will be open in late Spring 2021.

The Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District began operations in 1953 and serves 17,027 Equivalent Single-Family Dwellings within a 4,500-acre service area. The treatment plant has a design capacity of 3 million gallons per day and the District provides high-quality tertiary treated water for local agricultural uses.
Rainfall and Water Storage Update 
Current water supply conditions as of 1/15/2021:   
Lake Mendocino Target Water Supply Curve: 65,012 acre-feet   
Current Storage: 28,076 acre-feet (43.2% of Target Water Supply Curve)   
Lake Sonoma   
Target Storage Curve: 245,000 acre-feet   
Current Storage: 157,535 acre-feet (64.3% of Water Supply Pool)   
Current rainfall conditions (10/1/20 – 1/14/21)   
Average (1894-2020 water years): 16.97”   
Current Water Year: 5.91” which is 34.8% of average   
Santa Rosa:   
Average (1950-2020 water years): 14.44 "   
Current Water Year: 5.77” which is 39.9% of average   
Upcoming Events

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

•January 25, 2021 Special Meeting
•January 26, 2021
•February 1, 2021 Strategic Retreat

Board Agendas: 

Please visit for additional information on Coronavirus and fire recovery from Sonoma County.

Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board Meetings

Petaluma Valley - January 28, 2021, 4:00 pm
Sonoma Valley - January 25, 2020, 4:00 pm
Santa Rosa Plain - January 28, 2020, 1:00 pm tentative 

Fact of the Month

Which of these activities wastes the MOST water per day in the average home?

A. Running the tap while washing dishes
B. Using a garbage disposal
C. A leaky toilet
D. Long showers

Answer: C
A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day! Ask to help your parents test your toilets for leaks. Place a drop of food coloring in the tank and if the color shows in the bowl for flushing, you have a leak.
Employment Opportunities

We invite you to explore the career opportunities available with Sonoma Water.

  • Water Agency Building Mechanic II - Extra Help (Continuous)
  • Water Use Efficiency Programs Specialist (Closes January 25, 2021)
  • Water Agency Supervising Right of Way Agent (Continuous)
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