707-769-2008   *  SONOMA COUNTY   *   CA   *  94951




New location for proposed casino as dangerous as old location.


Nothing has changed. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Station Casinos of Nevada abandoned plans for a massive casino-hotel complex near Wilford Road and Stony Point due to insurmountable environmental problems, not the least of which is diminishing groundwater supplies. The Wilford Avenue site, immediately adjacent to Rohnert Park, is well within the now-infamous "cone of depression", a groundwater "hole" created by Rohnert Park's over pumping.

But the new site, is also within the cone of depression.

The locations marked in red are only approximations. The contour lines in the above graphic are from a 1987 Department of Water Resources publication. The lines mapped the huge cone of depression under Rohnert Park that was discovered in 1983. The blue line is an arbitrary area that includes SSU, Rohnert Park, Cotati and large swaths of unincorporated Penngrove. This study, performed by PES Environmental in 1999, established groundwater overdraft, in some places of more than 150 feet below normal.

O.W.L. Submitted four documents at the October 19, 2005 hearings in Rohnert Park. You can download them here:

Letter from O.W.L. asking questions regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed casino.

A copy of the current legal complaint against Rohnert Park under SB 610.

A fascinating letter from the Marin Municipal Water District to the Sonoma County Water Agency General Manager demanding answers to some embarassing question.

A White Paper generated by Weston Benshoof, O.W.L.'s attorneys, on the risks of putting a federal water right in a groundwater basin known to be in overdraft.

The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Basin

Click on the image to zoom to the Basin itself

Many useful links in the library. Click above.

O.W.L. Foundation


Support your O.W.L. Foundation

O.W.L. Foundation president H.R. Downs letter to the Press Democrat Editor:

Water wars

EDITOR: The next water war skirmish will be held at 6 p.m on Oct. 19 at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, when federal representatives will hear arguments regarding a proposed Indian casino in Rohnert Park. The casino will have a federal water right, what's known as a "super right." The casino location has been proven in court to be in groundwater overdraft. Placing a federal water right on land known to be in groundwater overdraft creates a volatile legal climate and dramatically elevates the risk of countywide groundwater adjudication.

If the casino gets caught in the web of litigation now enveloping Rohnert Park, the United States attorney general would be obliged to defend that federal right. But adjudication lets his client's "super right" automatically exercise its more powerful prerogative over water resources. California already has about 19 adjudicated basins. Adjudication requires a judge to strip everyone of all water rights and appoint a "water master" to ration water based on seniority of arrival, hence the term "super right" applied to Native Americans.

The problem with the proposed casino is water, not traffic, gambling, crime or the destruction of local businesses, as regrettable as those other ills may be.

President, O.W.L. Foundation, Penngrove