Sonoma Water E-News | July 2021
Take the Saving Water Challenge and Win Prizes!
Water providers in the North Bay are offering prizes to encourage water customers to save water during a month-long “Saving Water Challenge” during July 1 sponsored by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (Partnership). The Partnership consists of 13 water utilities in Sonoma and Marin counties that provide regional solutions for water use efficiency. To encourage action and awareness during the current historic drought, the Partnership has created the Saving Water Challenge.
A list of prizes – which includes High-efficiency clothes washer, High-efficiency toilet, Smart irrigation controller, Smart Home Water Monitor, Rainwater catchment system, and Gift certificate for a carwash at a carwash that recycles wash water – will be given out to water customers who visit and pledge to save water.
To help meet the needed water reductions throughout the North Bay, participants can join the challenge and pledge to do their part by taking simple actions to reduce water use. Some water conservation actions include: 
  • Hand water plants that need it. 
  • Lawns irrigated with spray sprinklers use the most water and should be significantly cut back or left un-watered. This would be a good time to change the lawn to a low water use landscape by sheet mulching it this summer and delaying replanting until fall or winter when rains return. Click here to see if there is a turf removal rebate available.
  • Prioritize which plants to water and which to let go with the goal of maintaining trees, large shrubs, and low water use plants over higher water use annual color plantings or those not adapted to dry-summer climates.
  • Using overhead sprinklers to water trees and shrubs is inefficient and wasteful. Convert to drip irrigation, with careful consideration given to establishing separate hydrozones for shrubs with similar watering needs and separately for trees that will need infrequent but deep watering.
  • Adding a three-inch mulch layer to all exposed soil surfaces in the landscape can reduce evaporative water loss from the soil and lessen the frequency of irrigation needed.
  • Regularly inspect your entire irrigation system for leaks and fix them immediately. 
You are invited to participate! Find new and interesting ways to save water during the drought – and water customers will be eligible to win fantastic prizes!
Go to to take the Saving Water Challenge and enter by July 31, 2021 to win!
Water Supply Update: Drought is Here. Save Water 
It is critical that aggressive water saving by our communities occurs right now. Two years of low rainfall have left Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino at historically low levels. Every drop of water saved helps maintain flows in the Russian River and maintains storage in reservoirs.

Our community leaders have instituted conservation mandates to encourage aggressive water saving. The following conservation mandates are in place to help conserve our water supply:

  • Sonoma Water – Reducing diversions from the Russian River by 20%
  • City of Cloverdale – Mandatory 25% reduction  
  • City of Cotati – Voluntary 20% reduction
  • City of Healdsburg- Mandatory 40% reduction, 74 gallons per person per day
  • City of Rohnert Park – Mandatory 20% reduction 
  • City of Santa Rosa – Mandatory 20% reduction 
  • City of Sebastopol – Mandatory 25% reduction 
  • County of Mendocino – Voluntary 20% reduction 
  • Town of Windsor – Voluntary 20% reduction 
  • Marin Municipal Water District – Mandatory 40% reduction
  • North Marin Water District – Mandatory 20% reduction 

Sonoma Water is publishing a water supply graphic (below) weekly, to provide a snapshot of the rainfall and water storage for our two main reservoirs, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Mendocino. Stay informed about Current Water Supply Conditions, 2021 Drought Updates, Actions, and Information. 
Lake Mendocino Water Storage Update
The storage goal at Lake Mendocino is 20,000 acre-feet on October 1 (there is currently 27,583 acre-feet in Lake Mendocino). Projections indicate that, if drought conditions persist or without significant reductions of diversions on the Upper Russian River, Lake Mendocino could be completely dry by early next year.

Under current conditions, continued diversions risk draining Lake Mendocino if drought conditions continue into water year 2022, threatening the drinking water supply for communities along the Upper Russian River. 

In response to the critical water supply conditions in the Russian River Watershed, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on June 15, 2021 adopted an emergency regulation authorizing the Division of Water Rights to issue curtailment notices to water right holders in the Russian River watershed to safeguard the community’s drinking water availability later this year and next year. Per the regulation, curtailment notices would be issued once water levels fall below storage targets in Lake Mendocino or when flows cannot meet demands in the Lower Russian River.

“Conditions in the Russian River watershed have deteriorated rapidly and are already worse than those experienced during the last drought,” said Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board. “The board does not take the restriction of water rights lightly, but the situation we are facing demands our attention and action. Diversions must stop to preserve minimum flows for health and safety once storage levels worsen and curtailments are issued.”

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership is collaborating with Upper Russian River water managers on water-saving campaigns and has broadened its water conservation campaign with increased advertising, public events, and targeted outreach as the summer months approach. Sonoma Water will continue to closely monitor water supply conditions locally and work with SWRCB staff, Russian River stakeholders, and Water Contractors and maintain communications with its Board of Directors, customers, and the greater community.

Water is a resource that our community shares, and it is critical that we all protect and conserve this valuable resource. Drought is here, make changes to everyday habits by eliminating water waste and reducing water use for big water savings.

The State Water Resources Control Board has launched a new web page with more information on this and other actions.
Replacement of Rubber Dam on Russian River Will Close Passage for Boaters Through October
Sonoma Water began the replacement of the inflatable rubber dam located in the Russian River near Forestville recently, and boating access through the construction zone will be closed through the summer. The rubber dam was last replaced in 1995. The rubber dam is a critical component of the Russian River water supply system that provides naturally filtered drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in portions of Sonoma and Marin counties.

The normal portage around the rubber dam closed June 21 for the remainder of the construction project, which is scheduled for completion on October 15, 2021. Signs alerting boaters to the changed conditions are posted at Wohler Bridge. A large sign mounted on the bridge is visible from the river, and an additional buoy line and floating sign beneath the bridge instructs boaters that the portage is closed, and they must exit the river at that point.

The next public access to the river downstream of the rubber dam is at the Steelhead Beach Regional Park, 9000 River Rd, Forestville.

The rubber dam is typically inflated in spring or early summer when demand for potable water increases. When fully inflated, the rubber dam creates a small pool of water from which Sonoma Water draws water for use in four off-stream infiltration ponds. The infiltration ponds help recharge groundwater, which is naturally filtered through sand and gravel and delivered to Sonoma Water’s customers. When the rubber dam is raised, a permanent fish ladder provides fish passage and allow Sonoma Water to count the migration of adult salmon and steelhead with its underwater video system located in the fish ladder.

Public notices will be posted around the rubber dam warning the public not to recreate on or near the dam. California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations prohibit fishing within 250 feet of the upstream and downstream sides of the rubber dam.  
Drought and Groundwater 
Worried about your well during the current drought?

Rainfall in the region to date is only 12.89 inches, compared to average rainfall of 34 inches. Three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) formed in Sonoma County as regulatory bodies that can manage groundwater using a variety of tools, including setting fees, requiring water use reporting, regulating how much groundwater is pumped, and monitoring wells.

The unprecedented dry conditions affects groundwater resources in multiple ways: 

  • There is less recharge into the aquifer from rain, creeks, streams and other surface water; 
  • People use more water to irrigate drought-stressed landscapes, gardens, vines and crops; and 
  • Water catchment systems and on-farm reservoirs received minimal run-off, and may already be dry, resulting in greater reliance of groundwater for irrigation and drinking water for animals. 

For all these reasons and more, rural landowners who rely on groundwater are understandably concerned about the impact that drought could have on wells. 

For more information and resources about the drought, groundwater wells and groundwater monitoring and reporting. 

Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions as of 7/13/2021:   
Lake Mendocino Target Water Supply Curve: 83,181 acre-feet   
Current Storage: 28,622 acre-feet (34.4% of Target Water Supply Curve)   
Lake Sonoma Target Storage
Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 126,993 acre-feet (51.83% of Water Supply Pool)   
Current rainfall conditions (10/1/20 – 7/12/21)   
Average (1894-2020 water years): 36.51”   
Current Water Year: 12.53” which is 34.32% of average   
Santa Rosa:   
Average (1950-2020 water years): 30.26"   
Current Water Year: 12.86” which is 42.5% 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 and at Board of Supervisors Chambers (BSC) 575 Administration Drive 102A.

•July 20, 2021, virtual & BSC
•July 27, 2021, special meeting, BSC

Board Agendas: 

Please visit for additional information and resources

Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board Meetings

Sonoma Valley - July 26, 2021 4pm
Petaluma Valley - July 22, 2021 4pm
Santa Rosa Plain - August 12, 2021 1pm

FOG Fact of the Month
Fats.Oils.Grease. (FOG)

I protect my home's pipes from clogs and sewer backups by adding chemicals to them perodically.
Although this may provide a temporary fix, harsh chemicals designed to unclog pipes can eat away at pipes and cause leaks, cracks, and breaks over time. If needed, try small amounts of backing soda and vinegar.
Answer: False
Employment Opportunities

Sonoma Water has job openings for people with a variety of skills and experience.

  • Water Agency Technical Writing Specialist (Continuous)

  • Water Agency Business Systems Analyst - Extra-Help (Continuous) 

  • Licensed Land Surveyor - Water Agency (Continuous)
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