Sonoma Water E-News | October 2021
Ways to Save Water this Fall  
Did you know that plants need 40% less water in the fall compared to summertime? Yes, temperatures can still be warm, but shorter days and other factors that influence plant water needs make reductions in irrigation possible. Be sure to turn down your irrigation timer and pay attention to the weather forecast. If it looks like it may rain, turn off your irrigation for the day or plan to water less. 

For more ways to save water, check out the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership Website.

On the website you can quickly find your local provider to learn about the rebates and programs available in your area by searching your address. Right now, the following cities have turf rebate programs to help replace your lawn with a drought tolerant landscape:

  • City of Healdsburg: $1 per square ft. of turf removed
  • Town of Windsor: Up to $500
  • City of Santa Rosa: $1.50 per square ft. of turf removed
  • City of Rohnert Park: $1.00 per square ft. of turf removed
  • City of Cotati: $1.50 per square ft. of turf removed
  • City of Sonoma: $1.00 per square ft. of turf removed
  • Valley of the Moon: Up to $550
  • North Marin Water District: $1.00 per square ft. of turf removed
  • Marin Water: $3.00 per square ft. of turf removed

Other great tools on the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership website include: the Water Smart Plant Picker page where you can search for plants that thrive in our Mediterranean climate and a list of Water Smart Nurseries. These nurseries label low water use plants, making it easy for you to identify water-saving plants.
Water Supply Update: Drought is Here. Save Water
The graph (below) shows cumulative water savings by Sonoma Water customers. Since July 1, we’ve reduced diversions from the Russian River by nearly 23%, surpassing the 20% reduced diversion goal. Please keep up the good work -- every drop we save means more water in our reservoirs!
Sonoma Water weekly water supply graphic (below) provides a snapshot of water storage for our two main reservoirs, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Mendocino. You can stay informed about Current Water Supply Conditions, 2021 Drought Updates, Actions, and Information by going to:
A Special Overview: Lake Sonoma’s Water Storage Story
Lake Sonoma is the main source of drinking water for Sonoma Water's 600,000 customers in Sonoma and Marin counties. Lake Sonoma relies on runoff from rainfall in its sprawling watershed to store water and supports a dynamic and fragile ecosystem in Dry Creek that includes the endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. 

Located about 14 miles northwest of Healdsburg, Warm Springs Dam is a rolled earth embankment dam that forms Lake Sonoma. Sonoma Water generates electricity at Warm Springs Dam through a hydroelectric turbine. Located at the confluence of Warm Springs Creek and Dry Creek, the lake was constructed in a response to the 1976-77 drought. It began filling in 1984 and has a total flood control storage capacity of 381,000 acre-feet with a water supply pool of 245,000 acre-feet. Lake Sonoma is a multi-purpose reservoir that serves as a flood control, water supply and recreational facility.

Below are some photos highlighting the severity of this historic drought and the dramatic impact it has had throughout Lake Sonoma. 
August 26, 2021
Dry Creek Arm: Just past the only wake zone in the lake, you come across a group of large trees in the middle of the lake. 
Warm Springs Arm: Two buoys stuck in a tree that has surfaced from dropping water levels. It is unclear whether this was an intentional act from locals or if it occurred naturally. 
Photo from the Overlook: The Public Boat Ramp is just behind the bridge, and the marina is to the left of the bridge. 
September 30, 2021
Marina: The marina shop roof is in the center (orange arrow) of the photo. In wet years the marina shop has flooded, most recently in 2017. You can see the stark contrast to this image by viewing this video of 2017 flooding.
This is one of many “boat-in” campgrounds called Loggers Camp. Normally the water level is near the blue arrow. The sign for the camp is located at the orange arrow.
Release of Final Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plans and Opportunity to Comment
Sonoma County’s three groundwater sustainability agencies, Petaluma Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain, released the Final Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) on October 1. 

The GSPs assess the conditions of each groundwater basin, analyze the basin’s sustainability over a 50-year period, and identify projects and actions needed to ensure the basin is sustainable by 2042.

“The plans take into consideration the distinct characteristics, resources and needs of the basin. Through Advisory Committees in each basin, stakeholder groups have worked diligently on creating plans that will have a lasting impact on the health of our groundwater,” said Santa Rosa Councilmember Tom Schwedhelm, Chair of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

“The draft GSPs mark a big milestone for the basins, in implementing the state-mandated Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). These locally-developed, living plans will help us ensure that groundwater is available into the future,” said Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, Chair of the Petaluma Valley GSA.

“The GSPs are a road map for achieving sustainability in the basins within 20 years, taking into consideration climate change, population growth and land use changes,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, Chair of the Sonoma Valley GSA. “When implemented, these plans will help protect people and the environment from the effects of groundwater over-pumping.”

The public comment period for the GSPs is October 1 through October 31. 
The GSPs are available online by going to and clicking on the basin link. Comments may be made using the online comment form. Hard copies of the GSPs are available for review at the following locations:

  • Petaluma Valley: Petaluma Regional Library, 100 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Sonoma Valley: Sonoma Valley Regional Library, 755 W Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476
  • Santa Rosa Plain: Central Santa Rosa Library, 211 E St., Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Copies of all three GSPs are available for review weekdays at Sonoma Water, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa, 95403.

“A Call to Action” Small Grant Program 
Sonoma Water’s Water and Energy Education program is ready for the return to in-person learning. The 2021/2022 brochure has been mailed to every teacher in the agency’s service areas. In addition to our existing suite of established programs, our education program is thrilled to introduce a new small grant program titled “A Call to Action.”

 A Call To Action will support solution-focused projects related to water or climate change. We hope this program will inspire a sense of ownership and hopefulness in students as they work together to make a positive impact on a problems they have identified at their school or in their neighborhood.

As the application deadline for the new small grant program approaches, we have received quite a few requests from teachers to support the installation of water bottle filling stations at their school sites. Access to drinking fountains at schools has been limited due to COVID concerns and teachers and students have seen an uptick in the use (and misuse) of plastic water bottles. Sixth graders from Monroe Elementary School in Santa Rosa added several hand-written notes and drawings to their grant application. They showed their understanding of the environmental problems with plastic water bottles and see the filling station as something they can do to “help our self and the earth.” Their proposal, along with others that are received, will be reviewed in the coming weeks and awards announced at the end of October.

For more information, please visit 

Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions as of 10/15/2021:   
Lake Mendocino Target Water Supply Curve: 69,810 acre-feet   
Current Storage: 13,400 acre-feet (22.18% of Target Water Supply Curve)   
Lake Sonoma Target Storage
Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 106,440 acre-feet (43.44% of Water Supply Pool)   
Current rainfall conditions (10/1/21 – 10/17/21)   
Average (1894-2020 water years): 0.77”   
Current Water Year: 0.21” which is 27.10% of average   
Santa Rosa:   
Average (1950-2020 water years): 0.78"   
Current Water Year: 0.09” which is 11.46% 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.

•Oct. 19, 2021 Virtual,BSC
•Oct. 22, 2021 CANCELLED - Special Closed Session
•Oct. 26, 2021 Virtual, BSC
•Nov. 2, 2021 Virtual,BSC
•Nov 16, 2021 Virtual,BSC
•Nov. 19, 2021 Special Closed Session

Board Agendas: 

Please visit for additional information and resources

Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board Meetings

Sonoma Valley -
Oct. 25, 2021 4:00pm

Petaluma Valley -
Oct. 28, 2021 4pm

Santa Rosa Plain -
Nov. 10, 2021 1pm

Fact of the Month

Why doesn't a drought go away when it rains?

A light to moderate shower provides cosmetic relief with cooler temperatures and life to surrounding vegetation. However, most of the rain that falls will be quickly evaporated or used by plants. Its impact is short term.
Employment Opportunities

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