Sonoma Water E-News | September 2018
Governor Brown Signs Mussel Prevention Funding Bill
Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 790, authored by State Senator Mike McGuire that will allow any person or entity that manages any aspect of the water in a reservoir where recreational, boating, or fishing activities are permitted, such as the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) to apply for and receive grant funding to prevent the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels. Local legislators also supported the bill including Assembly Member Marc Levine.

Quagga and Zebra mussels are two species of non-native freshwater mussels from Eurasia that can disrupt the ecological balance of waterbodies and reduce their recreational value, and impede distribution of water supply systems by encrusting water intakes, pipes, and other structures. To minimize further impacts to the State it is important to prevent them from being spread.
The signing of SB 790 into law was in response to a recent positive mussel detection on a boat trying to enter Lake Mendocino. Before entering Lake Mendocino, a specially trained dog detected quagga mussels on the boat’s engine. The boat was not allowed to enter the waterway and was decontaminated. The close call drew immediate attention from regional water resource managers and local legislators to increase mussel prevention funding and programming. Prior to the SB 790, local water managers, such as Sonoma Water, were not allowed to receive state mussel prevention dollars if the facility was not completely owned by the local water manager. SB 790 now allows the local sponsoring agencies of any waterway, such as Sonoma Water, to apply for and receive the highly sought-after state mussel prevention funds. These grants will help water managers develop prevention programs, implement programs, or expand upon an existing program.
The 2018 Sonoma County Water Agency Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Passes FEMA Review
The Sonoma County Water Agency’s (Sonoma Water) 2018 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) – which is a blueprint for reducing the damage to Sonoma Water’s infrastructure from natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, fires, and earthquakes – has passed the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) review and will be eligible for final approval pending its adoption by the Board of Directors on Oct. 9, 2018.

Sonoma Water must update its LHMP every five years to ensure it remains relevant to current events and system conditions and to meet funding eligibility requirements set forth by FEMA. The LHMP reviewed Sonoma Water’s vulnerabilities and risks, as well as a prioritized listing of hazard mitigation actions. An LHMP is a long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. The planning process included public and stakeholder involvement to assist Sonoma Water in updating its 2013 LHMP.
LHMPs are public documents that create a framework for risk-based decision making to reduce damage to lives, property, and the economy from future disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, and floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires LHMPs to issue grant funding for pre-disaster and hazard mitigation actions.
In 2004 the Sonoma County Water Agency initiated a natural hazard assessment, which was instrumental in creating Sonoma Water’s first LHMP in 2008. This LHMP was updated in 2013, and again in 2018 and includes a priority listing of hazard mitigation actions.
Statewide Safe Medicine Disposal Program Passed
For more than a decade, there has been a growing concern about the potential adverse effects of pharmaceuticals released to the environment through treated wastewater and landfill lechate. Improper disposal of medications may contribute to the introduction of these pollutants to environment. One way to reduce the level of pharmaceuticals in surface water and reduce the opportunities for abuse and accidental poisoning is to create a Safe Medicine Disposal Program to provide a convenient way for people to safely dispose of unneeded pharmaceutical products.
In 2007, as part of its Pollution Prevention program the Sonoma County Water Agency (Agency) initiated a Safe Medicine Disposal Pilot Program. The Agency partnered with pharmacies, law offices and medical facilities to station secure drop-off boxes for residents to use for the free disposal of their waste medications. In 2010, multiple local agencies with their own Safe Medicine Disposal programs coalesced under the RRWA umbrella forming a regional, multiagency Safe Medicine Disposal coalition. As a result our agencies have created a regional impact, establishing numerous drop-off locations throughout the county and collecting a grand total of approximately 127,000 pounds of waste medications.
In early 2018, the state of California introduced Senate Bill 212. This bill would create a statewide pharmaceutical and sharps take back and disposal program funded by the manufacturers of those products. SB 212 was unanimously passed by the State Senate with 39-0 vote. On September 30, 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 212 to create the first statewide industry-funded drug and needles take-back program in the nation!
Winter Water Outlook
The winter of 2017/18 saw month-long dry periods interrupted by the occasional strong winter storm, which led to below average cumulative rainfall totals for the Russian River watershed. As the spring of 2018 came to an end, Dry Hydrological Conditions were triggered, which resulted in a reduction of the minimum instream flow requirements for the Russian River. Despite an unusually dry winter, water supply conditions in Sonoma Water managed reservoirs have remained healthy as the upcoming winter approaches. Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma both have water supply levels normal for this time of year, ensuring that there is adequate water available to release for the benefit of fish habitats while maintaining a reliable water supply for Sonoma Water customers.
Rainfall and Water Storage Update
Current water supply conditions (8/24/18)

Lake Mendocino
Target Storage Curve: 63,550 acre-feet
Current Storage: 59,332 acre-feet (93.4% of Target)

Lake Sonoma
Target Storage Curve: 245,000 acre-feet
Current Storage: 195,504 acre-feet (79.8% of Water Supply Pool)

Current rainfall conditions (10/1/17 - 8/19/18)

Average (1894-2017 water years): 37.09”
Current Water Year: 23.49” which is 63.33% of average

Santa Rosa:
Average (1950-2017 water years): 30.71"
Current Water Year: 25.12” which is 81.80% of average
Upcoming Events

  • October 9, 2018, 8:30 am
  • October 11, 2018, 1:00 pm - Santa Rosa Plain GSA Board Meeting
  • October 16, 2018 8:30 am
  • September 23, 2018, 8:30 am

NBWA Board Meetings
  • October 5, 2018, 9:30 am
Fact of the Month

Many people think that water for the storm drain system is treated at a wastewater treatment plant and all of the pollutants are removed. In truth, urban runoff flows untreated through the storm drain system directly into creeks and rivers.The Water Agency is currently involved in a collaborative process to create  Stormwater Resource Plans  in order to prioritize and implement multi-benefit stormwater projects which consider climate change resiliency, groundwater management, and flood protection, among other factors.
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