Sonoma County Water Agency E-News | June 2017
During April and May, three new local agencies were created in Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley. Public hearings are now scheduled to consider designating these local agencies to be responsible for managing groundwater in their respective basins. The hearings are one item on the agendas of the first meetings of the Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs). These agencies were formed to meet the requirements of California’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which went into effect in 2015. The public hearings will include an opportunity for members of the public to speak.
These hearings will be held on:
Boaters asked to clean, drain, and dry watercraft  

Mussel-sniffing dogs have returned to Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino to inspect watercraft for invasive quagga and zebra mussels.  Boaters at both reservoirs will be inspected for the thumb-sized mussels that have infested 33 reservoirs in California, causing millions in damage to water infrastructure and the environment.  If a mussel is found on a boat, the boat will not be allowed to launch and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be immediately notified. Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are currently mussel free.

The mussels reproduce quickly overtaking a waterway and destroying its natural habitats and fisheries, clog water infrastructure and result in millions of dollars in maintenance costs.  To date, the mussels have caused more than $500 million in water infrastructure damage nationwide.  Ongoing research has yet to formally find a method to removing the mussels from an infested waterway. 

Boats are the primary vector for the spread of mussels from infested waterways to non-infested waterways.

The mussels first arrived in the Great Lakes from Europe in the 1980’s and have spread to many water bodies in the eastern and Midwestern United States, including California. The first confirmed find of zebra mussels in California occurred in 2008 in San Benito County at San Justo Reservoir.  That reservoir is now closed to boating recreation due to the mussel infestation. Quagga mussels have now been found in waterways within San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange counties. Boaters are asked to keep their boats cleaned, drained and dry after using any waterbody.  The mussel inspection program is sponsored by a North Coast consortium of local governments working together to help keep the mussels out of local waterways. 

June 10th, 9 am – 12 pm
Register quickly! Only a few spots remaining

The Sonoma County Water Agency invites the community to celebrate Father’s Day with the family by joining Water Agency naturalist Juan-Carlos Solis for a stroll along the Russian River. Late spring is a time when newly hatched birds and fish are found along the river - the living proof of successful parenting efforts earlier in the season. We’ll explore the riparian ecosystem along the river and look for songbirds, such as black-headed grosbeaks and Wilson’s warblers, and fish, such as Sacramento suckers, and threespine sticklebacks. The final destination for the program will be the newly opened Fish Ladder and Viewing Gallery where we’ll look underwater for more species of fish, including 3 species of threatened and endangered salmon: Chinook, steelhead trout, and coho. This program will be led in both English and Spanish.
The Water Agency is leading a collaborative effort to develop Stormwater Resource Plans (SWRP) for the Petaluma River Watershed and the Sonoma Creek Watershed, which will meet new state regulations that recognize stormwater or rain water as a resource rather than a flood conveyance problem.   Watershed stakeholders will have the opportunity to identify projects that provide multiple benefits based on State guidelines and eligibility consideration to receive state funding to implement these projects.  This locally-led planning effort fosters regional watershed-based collaboration and promotes the prioritization of projects to capture and treat stormwater.  Storm Water Resource Plans will provide a framework to manage water resources in concert with the Agency’s Stormwater Management & Groundwater Recharge Initiative
to address climate change resiliency, provide flood protection, improve water quality and explore opportunities for groundwater recharge (particularly under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act).  Throughout the planning process requests will be made for public and stakeholder input.

Led by the City of Ukiah, a similar plan is currently being developed in the Russian River Watershed by the Russian River Watershed Association.  The Sonoma County Water Agency is a collaborating partner.

Thanks to one of the wettest years on record, the Russian River water supply system is not currently facing drought conditions.  State mandatory conservation standards have been lifted and water supply reservoirs remain full with sufficient water to meet local demands. However, the Water Agency continues to ask its contractors and community to use water wisely.  There is never enough water to waste, and the Water Agency is committed to reducing waste water and promoting water reuse for maximum efficiency.

We thank our community for being responsible stewards of this invaluable resource and for their successful efforts as we continue to meet conservation goals.

At a public hearing on May 16th, 2017, the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Board of Directors approved a set of rate increases ranging from 3% to 5% in each of the eight sanitation systems operated by the Water Agency.  

Annual rate increases have averaged below 6% for the sanitation districts and zones operated by the Water Agency.  By comparison, sewer rate increases for municipal wastewater systems in Sonoma County over the past 10 years averaged 8% per year.

Between 1995 and 2014 more than $140 million in capital expansion and replacement projects were funded among the eight systems.

The goal is to maintain and replace facilities and equipment in order to operate safely, preserve the systems’ assets, and protect ratepayers’ investments.
Updated cumulative rainfall from October 1, 2016 through May 29, 2017.

Ukiah: 52.54” which is 145.98% of average and 18.61” away from breaking record annual total rainfall (WY 1998: 71.15”)  

Santa Rosa: 60.03” which is 203.63% of average and 4.30” above previous record annual total rainfall (WY 1983: 55.73)
Water Supply - As of May 30, 2017
Lake Mendocino: 96,029 acre-feet, 110.23% of target water supply storage

Lake Sonoma: 245,966 acre-feet, 100.39% of water supply pool
April Events Calendar
  • 6/6/2017
  • 6/13/2017
  • 6/20/2017

Family Russian River Nature Walk

  • 6/10/2017

GSA Public Hearings

  • 6/1/2017 (Santa Rosa)
  • 6/8/2017 (Sonoma)
  • 6/22/2017 (Petaluma)

North Bay Watershed Association Board Meeting

  • 6/2/2017
Employment Opportunities
We invite you to explore the career opportunities available with the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Fact of the Month
Biologists believe that this winter saw the largest number of Coho salmon spawning in the Russian River and its tributaries since the Russian River Coho Monitoring program began.
This E-News is produced by the Water Agency's Community & Government Affairs Department.  We want to hear from you!  Contact us with your questions. 
Sonoma County Water Agency