Lake Mendocino Water Releases Increased to Secure Flood Control Capacity
For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2011
(Santa Rosa, CA) Water releases from Lake Mendocino will nearly double over the next four weeks starting Saturday, October 15 as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) and stakeholders including the Mendocino County Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District work to secure flood control storage capacity for the upcoming rainy season. Lake Mendocino is a multi-purpose reservoir serving regional flood control, water supply and recreational needs.
Lake Mendocino’s current water storage level is approximately 81,000 acre-feet. The goal of the four week release schedule is to drop the storage level by 13,000 acre-feet to approximately 69,000 acre-feet. This goal will be met by implementing a sustained release of 400 cubic-feet-per-second for approximately four weeks while balancing the needs of Russian River fisheries and water supply facilities.
“The release method was carefully selected by regional water and fishery stakeholders. It is our priority to ensure Lake Mendocino serves its flood control function. This release schedule will do that and protect fisheries and water supply facilities in the Russian River watershed,” said Sean White, general manager of the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District.
"Lake Mendocino is an important flood risk reduction facility for residents and farmers in the Russian River watershed," said Michael Dillabough, chief of operations and readiness for the San Francisco District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "It is important to ensure enough space is available in the reservoir for future flood risk reduction needs."
Water Agency Principal Environmental Specialist David Manning added, “The release schedule that was agreed upon by the stakeholders ensures that Russian River Chinook salmon will continue to spawn and thrive this fall. To date, we have counted more than 800 Chinook salmon in the Russian River and thousands more should follow.”
A similar release schedule was implemented in 2010 when water storage levels remained near the flood control level into the fall season. Water storage in Lake Mendocino is managed like a two layered cake – the bottom layer is managed for water supply purposes and the top layer is managed for flood control purposes. Depending on the time of the year, the amount of water allowed to be stored in each layer fluctuates. As of October 15, the flood control layer grows and the water supply layer decreases because of the upcoming rainy season. The water supply layer increases in the spring and summer when water demand increases. The Corps manages releases when water enters the flood control layer and the Water Agency manages releases when water is in the water supply layer.
Lake Mendocino, formed by the construction of the Coyote Valley Dam in 1958, is the largest reservoir in Mendocino County with an average of 500,000 visitors annually.
The Sonoma County Water Agency is working to secure our future by investing in our water resources, community and environment. The Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at www.sonomacountywater.org.