Sonoma and Marin county water agencies have begun urging customers to conserve water in the face of the worst drought the region has seen in at least a century.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Tuesday signed an agreement intended to bring together a broad array of government, farming and environmental interests on science and stream restoration projects in the Russian River watershed.
Sonoma County Water Agency officials have targeted $255,000 in nonprofit grant funds to assist study of the Russian River watershed and launch a pair of conservation projects. One of the water-saving projects aims to help the agency detect leaks on residential accounts.
A Mendocino County judge on Wednesday overturned controversial state water rules designed to regulate how grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties divert water from the Russian River. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman declared the law to be ‘constitutionally void’ and ‘invalid.’
‘There is not substantial evidence in the record to show the regulation, as enacted, is necessary,’ she said.
For generations, there’s been a temporary summer bridge installed across the Russian River near Asti, south of Cloverdale, and for many of those years residents and emergency responders have wanted to extend its season. The crossing makes it easier to access the east side of the river, but the bridge is removed for the winter when waters rise.
Two large groups representing North Coast grape growers said Friday they are likely to voluntarily comply with rules designed to protect endangered fish in the Russian River, even though a judge has put the controversial regulations on hold. But it’s unclear whether other growers, who farm more than half of the 23,050 acres in the Russian River watershed, would follow their lead.
A Mendocino County judge on Thursday postponed the state’s new rules on frost protection until grape growers who filed a lawsuit challenging the rules have their day in court.
A new chief will begin leading the Forestville and Russian River fire protection districts this week as part of an agreement to share a leader. Forestville Fire Capt. Max Ming, an El Molino High graduate with deep roots in Sonoma County, will start running both departments Thursday.
State regulators Wednesday presented a new proposal to govern septic systems that may be polluting California rivers, removing many of the requirements that drew heavy criticism two years ago. Still, the proposal ran into some criticism Wednesday at two hearings in Santa Rosa, where it was viewed as another layer of government.
The county Water Agency has a responsibility to assure the Russian River remains healthy and sustainable, says Brenda Adelman, chairwoman of the Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. She says there are many questions about its plan to manage the estuary, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.