Sonoma Water E-News | July 2019
Stream Maintenance Program Improves Water Quality and Provides Flood Protection
Sonoma Water began stream maintenance activities in or near more than 50 streams throughout Sonoma County this week to restore conveyance capacity and maintain proper function of Sonoma Water flood control channels and retain or enhance appropriate habitat. Sonoma Water maintains approximately 75 miles of flood control channels. Each spring Sonoma Water performs an assessment using a database and geographic information system to monitor stream conditions, prioritize work and document maintenance activities.  
Sonoma Water works in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the North Coast and San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Boards to obtain water quality certifications and permits for the Program. The permits allow the Water Agency to continue implementing its Stream Maintenance Program which ensures all maintenance activities are done in a manner that is protective and beneficial to the environment, and that maintenance activities are only conducted when necessary.  The Water Agency urges members of the public to keep clear of maintenance activities and equipment as a safety precaution.
Sonoma Water receives Highest Credit Rating Possible for Water Bonds
Improved rating reflects agency's extremely strong financial performance
Sonoma Water's credit rating has been raised to AAA – the highest rating possible. AAA credit ratings are very seldom provided to entities as small as Sonoma Water and this rating signifies the confidence Sonoma Water has earned in the financial community. This fiscal standing allows Sonoma Water to receive lower interest rates when it issues water revenue bonds, which was confirmed last week by Sonoma Water receiving its lowest interest ever for its bonds. In approving the higher rating, S&P cited the importance of Sonoma Water’s water supply to its wholesale customers; the use of timely rate increases to partly offset the effects of declining water sales; and comprehensive operational management practices and policies. Sonoma Water Assistant General Manager Mike Thompson noted the collaborative environment that exists between Sonoma Water and its municipal customers, who have supported the long-term program of moderate rate increase to support water transmission improvements. The $11 million bond issue will be used on projects to further protect Sonoma Water’s water transmission system against earthquakes, and other disasters.
Unprecedented Funding for Research into Atmospheric Rivers and Stormwater Capture in California Approved by Legislature
· ACWA: Heather Engel, (916) 441-4545,
· OCWD: Eleanor Torres, (714) 378-3268,
· San Diego Water Authority: Glenn Farrel, (916) 840-5634,
· Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego: Lauren Fimbres Wood, (858) 534-3626,
· Sonoma Water: Brad Sherwood, (707) 322-8192,
· Turlock Water & Power: Constance Anderson, (209) 883-8448,
· Yuba Water Agency: DeDe Cordell, (530) 741-5028,
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will receive $9.25 million toward funding for research into atmospheric rivers in the California Legislature’s 2019-2020 budget. A coalition of California water agencies, that included the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Sonoma Water, San Diego County Water Authority, Turlock Water and Power, Yuba Water Agency, and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), was developed in 2018 to gain state funding for research to improve observations, forecasts and decision support of atmospheric river (AR) precipitation events in California. Atmospheric rivers provide 30-50% of California’s annual precipitation and cause 90% of the flood events throughout the state. The coalition is working with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University California, San Diego to study atmospheric rivers to improve forecasting of these all-important storm events. This work has been supported by an early investment of $3 million appropriated by the California Legislature three years ago in the 2016-2017 budget to study atmospheric rivers. This additional funding will further atmospheric river science and improve forecasting tools. 
A Sonoma OneRain gauge installed in 2018
Grand Jury report acknowledges Sonoma Water's earthquake preparation efforts - provides recommendations for further improvements
The 2019 Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury investigated the risk of a major earthquake in Sonoma County and the effect that it could have on residents, due to impacts on water supplies. Because most people in Sonoma County rely on water supplied by Sonoma Water to nine city contractors and special districts, the Grand Jury’s report focuses on how well-prepared Sonoma Water and its contractors are to respond to a major earthquake. Among the Grand Jury’s findings was “Sonoma Water and its water contractors maintain a well-designed system and have made significant progress in mitigating earthquake risks. Ongoing efforts are needed to reduce remaining risks.”
The Grand Jury correctly notes that preparing for earthquakes and other natural hazards is a top priority of Sonoma Water, and that ongoing capital improvements are being made while Sonoma Water continues to keep rates low compared to other California water agencies. In the event of a major earthquake, Sonoma Water has developed a triage plan for water delivery following larger quakes, which includes coordination with water contractors, maintaining system pressure, providing public notice, isolating water losses and using mutual aid and from other water agencies as needed.
Mike Hauser Algebra Academy at Sonoma Water
This year’s Mike Hauser Algebra Academy programming, which is delivered in collaboration with the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, grew 75%. Sonoma Water hosted a total of 7 full days of algebra related activities for 66 middle school students in Sonoma County. Students experienced how algebra is used at Sonoma Water in the fields of fisheries management, streamflow engineering, reservoir operations, energy and sanitation. In addition, students learned about what motivated participating Sonoma Water staff to choose a STEM career.
Broad-Based Partnership Takes Next Step Toward Two-Basin Solution for Eel and Russian Rivers
On Friday, June 28th, a diverse partnership between a conservation organization and several public agencies filed a joint Notice of Intent (NOI) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stating that they plan to apply for a permit to take over operations of the Potter Valley Project (Project). California Trout (CalTrout), Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission, Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) and the County of Humboldt are working together to set a path forward for the Project that will meet the needs of water users throughout the region while improving conditions for native species in the Eel River watershed. The move comes after PG&E announced in January that it would not seek a new license for continued operation of the Project. The NOI highlights the goals of the Potter Valley Project ad hoc committee, convened by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), and includes restoration of fisheries and a dependable supply of water in both the Eel and Russian River basins. One key tenet of the filing is that it includes a plan to create a new regional entity that could assume operations of the Project once a new license is granted. The Notice of Intent will be conditioned upon the completion of a Feasibility Study, including the creation of a regional entity, which will ultimately become the license applicant. All four entities will contribute $100,000 each toward funding the Feasibility Study. The Planning Agreement does not commit any entity to acquire or hold the license.
Map of the Potter Valley Project
Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions (7/11/19)
Lake Mendocino
Target Storage Curve: 83,595 acre-feet
Current Storage: 91,879 acre-feet (109.91% of Target)
Lake Sonoma
Target Storage Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 238,583 acre-feet (97.38% of Water Supply Pool)
Current rainfall conditions (10/1/18 - 7/10/19)
Average (1894-2018 water years): 36.46”
Current Water Year: 42.83” which is 117.47% of average
Santa Rosa:
Average (1950-2018 water years): 30.16"
Current Water Year: 47.99” which is 159.12% of average
Upcoming Events

  • July 23, 2019, 8:30 am
  • July 30, 2019, 8:30 am
  • August 6, 2019, 8:30 am
  • August 13, 2019, 8:30 am

GSA Board Meetings
  • July 22, 2019, 4:00 pm - Sonoma Valley
  • August 8, 2019, 1:00 pm - Santa Rosa Plain
  • August 22, 2019, 4:00 pm - Petaluma Valley

NBWA Board Meetings
  • August 2, 2019, 9:30 am
Fact of the Month

With summer in full swing, Sonoma Water has an active inspection program at Lake Sonoma where your watercrafts will now be inspected for invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels 7 days a week! Between the hours of about 8am and 4pm, stop by the inspection station at the Lake Sonoma Visitors Center. Help keep these invasive species out of our waterways and Don't Move a Mussel!
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