Sonoma Water E-News | June 2022
Sonoma Water Petitions State for Critical Water Condition for Russian River as Severe Drought Persists
On May 25, 2022, Sonoma Water filed Temporary Urgency Change Petitions (TUCPs) with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Division of Water Rights requesting changes to establish a Critical water supply condition in the Russian River. Under critical water supply conditions, the Russian River would have minimum instream flow requirements of 25 cfs and 35 cfs in the upper and lower river, respectively.

This change will allow Sonoma Water to continue the minimum instream flows that the river is currently operating under and preserve water supply in both Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma. It will also help avoid violating the Incidental Take Statement for Dry Creek established in the Russian River Biological Opinion.

The current petitions also commit Sonoma Water and its retail customers to a (the cities of Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma; the town of Windsor; and Valley of the Moon and North Marin water districts) 20-percent reduction in total diversions from the Russian River between July 1 and October 31 compared to the same time period in 2020.

“The Russian River watershed is facing severe drought conditions for the third year in a row and filing Temporary Urgency Change Petitions is essential to ensure the water supply for more than 600,000 people and the environment in Sonoma and Marin counties,” said Sonoma Water Director James Gore.

In addition to the drought, Lake Mendocino is also impacted by reduced inflows due to changes in the operation of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project as a result of an equipment failure and dry conditions in the Eel River watershed.

The current hydrologic index in Sonoma Water’s water rights permits sets minimum instream flow requirements that are out-of-date and based on inflow into Lake Pillsbury (in the Eel River watershed). The index is not based on Russian River watershed conditions, which are extremely dry.

Sonoma Water will continue consultations with staff from the State Water Resources Control Board, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, National Marine Fisheries Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to address any water quality, fishery, or public health and safety concerns.
Water Supply Update – Drought is Still Here. Save Water.
The drought is still here. Water supply levels at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma remain at historic lows. Water is a resource that our community shares, and it is critical that we all continue to protect and conserve this valuable resource. Sonoma Water and its partners in the Sonoma Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) urge our community to keep up the great work and effort – water saved now, is water we can use later. For water saving tips and programs you can take advantage of to conserve water and save money, visit

The Sonoma Water weekly water supply graphic (below) provides a comparison of storage levels during 2020, 2021 with current 2022 water storage for our two main reservoirs, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Mendocino. You can stay informed about Current Water Supply Conditions, Drought Updates, Actions, and Information by going to:
New Guide for Maintaining Low Water-Use Landscaping
Keeping up with yard work can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what to do, how to do it and when to do it can make landscape maintenance much easier and less time consuming.

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP), in collaboration with Ann Baker Landscape Architecture, has published a guide for homeowners on how to maintain a low water-use landscape. “Water Smart Gardens Maintenance Manual” is an easy-to-use, step-by-step instruction manual on how to care for and maintain the plants, drip irrigation systems, and green features like the ones offered in the Water Smart Landscape Design Templates, which are free, downloadable landscape plans available on the SMSWP website.

The Maintenance Manual will set home gardeners up for success with a foundation of knowledge and principles that reduce resources and upkeep. It includes a calendar showing when to do tasks in the garden – when to weed and when to prune for plant health for example. Instructions on how to perform tasks like pruning and irrigation system maintenance are featured as well as tips for preparing for fire season.

The Water Smart Gardens Maintenance Manual can be downloaded free on the SMSWP website at
New Video Chronicles the Dry Creek Habitat Restoration Project
The Russian River Biological Opinion is a federally mandated 15-year blueprint to help save endangered fish and ensure our water supply.

The Russian River Biological Opinion directed Sonoma Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build six miles of habitat enhancements along the 14-mile stretch of Dry Creek between Warm Springs Dam (Lake Sonoma) and the confluence with the mainstem of the Russian River in Healdsburg. The project is adding new habitat log features, boulder fields, and off-channel areas designed to provide refuge for juvenile coho salmon and steelhead.

The 2021 construction season saw the completion of the Phase 3, Part 3 Habitat Enhancement Project, which consisted of stabilizing a failing streambank, construction of two new side channel habitat features, and the removal of a significant amount of concrete and other debris from the creek. With the completion of this recent work, a total of 3.5 miles of habitat have been enhanced since 2012.

Sonoma Water and the Army Corps have a cost-sharing agreement which has allocated $28 million in federal funds towards the Dry Creek habitat efforts. These federal funds will be utilized for construction efforts during the 2022 through 2024 construction seasons.

The success of the project so far has depended on cooperative agreements with dozens of private property owners along the stream. Many grape growers and wineries have granted Sonoma Water permanent easements along the creek corridor to allow the construction and maintenance of the habitat features.

 Improving habitat for endangered salmon would not be possible without landowner support and partnerships with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

To honor this ambitious effort and share the Dry Creek story, Sonoma Water contracted Wahoo Films to produce the Salmon Stewards of Dry Creek video. Please follow the link below to view the film and help share our story.
2022 Sonoma Water Inaugural Student Showcase
On Thursday, May 26 at the Sonoma Clean Power Advanced Energy Center, winners of the Russian River Watershed Association’s High School Video Contest were awarded. The audience enjoyed a preview of the student's winning videos. These videos will be used as public service announcements, helping to spread the message of this year’s theme: “Water, there’s never enough to waste!” The videos will be released soon at

Additionally, several of the teachers who received grants from the Sonoma Water "A Call to Action" program to address problems related to water or climate change were recognized. Teachers were awarded a small grant from $300 to $1,000 to support stewardship projects at their schools. School projects included composting, water catchment, aquaponics, garbage sorting, gardening, water filling stations, and plastic pollution education. These teachers are great role models and show students it’s possible to make a positive difference despite the challenges.  
Left to right: High School Video Contest winners Noah Vincent-Blatter and Maile Brucklacher, 3rd Place, Caroline Huang, 1st Place, and Ava Correia, 2nd Place. 
Left to right: A Call To Action coordinator, Trisha Meisler, Sonoma Water and teachers: Charlotte Mandrier, Santa Rosa French American Charter School; Jessica Brandenburg, Piner-Olivet Charter Middle School; Shannan Johnson, North Bay Met Academy; Ry Ulmer-Strack, Summerfield Waldorf School; Victoria McFarlin, Albert Biella Elementary School; Josh Motchar, Albert Biella Elementary School.
Fats, Oils, and Grease (F.O.G.s) Cause Clogs
Wipes can catch on tree roots and accumulate with fats, oils and grease becoming large obstructions in the pipes. Further down the line, they weave together and create giant rags which get stuck in pumps, collection systems, and motors, causing backups and equipment failures.

We are asking residents not to discard wipes in the toilet, but instead to throw them in the trash to avoid backups and overflow. Protect your sewer pipes by disposing of fats, oils, and grease in the trash, not down the drain.

Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions as of 6/6/2022:   
Lake Mendocino Target Water Supply Curve: 88,004 acre-feet   
Current Storage: 50,522 acre-feet (57.41% of Target Water Supply Curve)   
Lake Sonoma Target Storage
Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 138,468 acre-feet (55.46% of Water Supply Pool)   
Current rainfall conditions (10/1/21 – 6/5/22)   
Average (1894-2021 water years): 35.88”   
Current Water Year: 19.90” which is 56.1% of average   
Santa Rosa:   
Average (1950-2021 water years): 29.81"   
Current Water Year: 26.39” which is 88.53% 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.

•June 13, 2022 Virtual Special Meeting
•June 14, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 15, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 16, 2022 Virtual Special Closed Session
•June 17, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 20, 2022 Virtual Special Meeting
•June 21, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 22, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 23, 2022 Virtual/BSC
•June 24, 2022 Virtual/BSC

Board Agendas: 

Please visit for additional information and resources

Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board Meetings

Sonoma Valley -
June 27, 2022 4:00pm

Petaluma Valley -
June 23, 2022 4pm

Santa Rosa Plain -
June 9, 2022 1pm

Fact of the Month

Sonoma Water was created as a special district in 1949 by the California Legislature to provide flood protection and water supply services. Legislation enacted in 1995 added the treatment and disposal of wastewater to Sonoma Water's responsibilities.
Employment Opportunities

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