Changes to the Flows in the Russian River

    Background | Estuary | Flows | Dry Creek | Fisheries | Mirabel | Public Outreach


    Biologists with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have concluded that current flow levels in the Russian River and Dry Creek during the summer are too high for young coho salmon and steelhead. NMFS biologists believe that reducing summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek would provide better fishery habitat by reducing velocity, minimizing the need to artificially breach the sandbar at the river mouth, and potentially improving estuary conditions for steelhead by allowing the formation of a freshwater lagoon.


    Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project

    The Water Agency is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project (Fish Flow Project). The EIR will be prepared by the Water Agency in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the State CEQA Guidelines, and the Water Agency’s “Procedures for the Implementation of CEQA.” The Water Agency will be the lead agency and will consider all comments from responsible and trustee agencies, property owners, and interested persons and parties regarding the scope and content of the information to be included in the EIR. The Fish Flow Project is required by the 2008 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Russian River Biological Opinion. Comments on the Notice of Preparation closed on Monday, November 12, 2010.


    Decision 1610 Permanent Flow Changes and Related Petitions

    The Russian River Biological Opinion, issued in September 2008 by the National Marine Fisheries Service, requires the Sonoma County Water Agency to file for permanent changes in the minimum instream flow requirements, which are established in the Water Agency’s water rights permits and State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Decision 1610, within a year of issuance of the Biological Opinion.  On September 23, 2009, the Water Agency filed the required petitions to amend the Water Agency’s water rights permits.

    On August 16, 2016, the Water Agency requested that the State Water Board cancel the petitions filed on September 23, 2009, as well as the outstanding time extension petitions for Permits 12949, 12950 and 16596 that were filed on October 11, 1999, and filed new petitions for revised permanent changes to the Decision 1610 minimum instream flow requirements, revised time extensions, and modifications to the hydrologic index that assesses hydrologic water supply conditions in the watershed. 


    Temporary Urgency Change Petition for Summer Russian River Flows

    The Temporary Urgency Change Petition was submitted as required by the Russian River Biological Opinion issued by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services. The Petition requests that the Division of Water Rights act expeditiously to approve the requested changes to minimum in-stream flows as identified in the Biological Opinion.