Water Quality on the Lower Russian River

The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) in September 2016 approved a plan to alter the mouth of the Russian River specifically to “create a more productive environment for young steelhead.”  The plan calls for SCWA to “adaptively manage a lagoon outlet channel” at the mouth of the river in Jenner to reduce tidal flows and raise the water level throughout the lower Russian River.

When implemented, this plan will inundate much of the riverfront beach areas in Patterson Point Preserve for five months, starting May 15 of each year. The Board of FoVG is advocating modifications to the plan, citing concerns of reduced recreational opportunities, degraded river water quality and negative impact on wildlife health.

In April, 2014, the FoVG Board published a Fact Sheet: available here.  

In August 2016, a Draft Environmental Impact Report was published by SCWA for public review: available here.

On November 11, 2016, the FoVG Board sent a letter responding to the DEIR:

FOVG Comments on Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights DEIR _11-11-16.pdf

The FoVG Riverwatch Committee has prepared a sample letter concerned citizens may want to send to SCWA during the open comment period, available here.

For background on the process and the parties involved, check these links:

Russian River Estuary Management Project - Main web page.

The Sonoma County Supervisors, also serving as the SCWA governing body.

Russian River Estuary Management - "Low Flow"

Managing water quality on the Russian River between Guerneville and the Pacific Ocean is a complex process involving multiple stakeholders.  The two primary issues are controlling the flow of the river - through reservoir releases and managing the mouth at Jenner - and limiting discharges into the river with tighter regulation of wastewater systems. Friends of Villa Grande members are engaged in the decision process in both issues.

A community meeting was held December 29, 2023 to present and discuss the Monte Rio/Villa Grande Waste Water Solutions Pilot Project. This web page takes you to the video recording of the meeting, as well as the slide deck and other links:

Monte Rio/Villa Grande Waste Water Solutions Pilot Project

The Russian RIver watershed suffers "impairments" from multiple pollution sources, including homeowner septic systems. California is in the process of tightening regulations to improve water quality, which could impact existing as well as new systems. For an overview of the situation, go to:

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board - Russian River Overview.

A Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) has been interacting with the various agencies to represent the concerns of homeowners and river users. Their meetings are open to the public in Monte Rio, as shown on their webpage:

Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens Advisory Group.

River Pollution and Septic Systems - Community Meeting