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

Rohnert Park's WSA


The Final Water Supply Assessment was approved by the Rohnert Park City Council on January 25th. The draft document contained approximately 30 pages, the Final WSA ADDED more than 40 new pages including whole new sections.

The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFWQCB) sent a letter to the City urging them NOT to approve the Final WSA. Another letter requesting that the County not approve the EIR for Canon Manor West was sent the same day. Both Rohnert Park's WSA and the Canon Manor EIR examine the SAME STUDY AREA. However, while one document claims that a mere 118 new houses would exert a "significant and unavoidable" impact on the region, including further damage to the already-overdrafted groundwater basin, the other document miraculously discovers abundant water for 4,500 new houses and 5 million square feet of commercial space.

The SFWQCB letters are here.


Rohnert Park has published a document called a draft Water Supply Assessment (WSA). This document is required to satisfy a new law in California called Senate Bill 610. The O.W.L. Foundation maintains that the document is flawed and does not satisfy this important law.


What is SB 610?

SB 610 makes changes to the Urban Water Management Planning Act to require additional information in Urban Water Management Plans if groundwater is identified as a source available to the supplier. The information required includes a copy of any groundwater management plan adopted by the supplier, a copy of the adjudication order or decree for adjudicated basins, and if non-adjudicated, whether the basin has been identified as being over drafted or projected to be overdrafted in the most current California Department of Water Resources (DWR) publication on that basin. If the basin is in overdraft, that plan must include current efforts to eliminate any long-term overdraft. A key provision in SB 610 requires that any project subject to the California Environmental Quality Act supplied with water from a public water system be provided a specified water supply assessment, except as specified in the law.

• Senate Bill 610 (Costa) - PDF 53KB


You can examine Rohnert Park's WSA on this page.


The O.W.L. Foundation challenged this document. You can download and read the statements submitted by Ed Casey, O.W.L.'s lead attorney, and by H.R. Downs, O.W.L.'s President.

Ed Casey Comments (1.1MB PDF)

H.R. Downs Comments (508KB PDF)

Rohnert Park responded to these comments and even produced a "Technical Memorandum" to tack on to the WSA. This "memorandum", in effect an errata, included many of the points that O.W.L. had raised but somehow managed to escape publication in the original WSA.


You can download the "Technical Memorandum" and the accompanying Powerpoint presentations produced by Rohnert Park from this page.


Below is the O.W.L. Foundation press release concerning Rohnert Park's WSA

NOVEMBER 22, 2004
CONTACT: H.R. DOWNS 707-769-2008



The O.W.L. Foundation is speaking on behalf of all the citizens of Rohnert Park and those of greater Sonoma County. The City of Rohnert Park has embarked on a reckless program of expansion with scant regard to necessary supplies of clean, fresh water.

The recent issuance of a Draft Water Supply Assessment (WSA) pretends to satisfy the requirements of SB 610, which requires projects of 500 houses or the equivalent to produce proof of a 20-year supply of water. Rohnert Park’s WSA fails utterly to satisfy this legal requirement.

By ignoring important data and by estimating other data to favor their ends, the City of Rohnert Park has placed in jeopardy the health and safety of its residents as well as the health and safety of the overall commercial economy.

The WSA suggests that water will be available from the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA). But SCWA has informed its contractors that less water will be available in the future, due to curtailments of Eel River diversions, a failure to build a higher-capacity plumbing system and other problems. SCWA has actually told contractors to pump more groundwater to satisfy upwards of 40% of their peak demand.

Groundwater in the entire south Santa Rosa plain is in demonstrable overdraft. The City of Rohnert Park agreed to reduce groundwater pumping and to institute a Groundwater Management Plan in a legal settlement reached with the South County Resource Preservation Committee in 2002. In July, the Sonoma County Grand Jury admonished the County and all of its Cities to implement Groundwater Management Plans pursuant to AB 3030. Sebastopol has begun this process.

But instead of managing their dwindling water supplies responsibly, the City of Rohnert Park has produced a flawed document that magically finds abundant water supplies. Rohnert Park’s answer to the current overdraft crisis is to propose more demand, and to make this proposal without any groundwater management plan in place. The buoyant claims made in the WSA sink like a stone when compared with the historical record and with a host of other current studies that reveal a steadily worsening water picture.

Rohnert Park’s Water Supply Assessment contains no model. No disciplined scientific study, like the USGS MODFLOW or any other model, that determines the actual amount of water available. Instead, a few hydrographs serve as magical diagrams over which the soothsayers of Rohnert Park stand, muttering their wishful incantations for “more water! more water!”

Unfortunately, there is no more water.







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O.W.L. Foundation


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More Water Law


AB 901

AB 901 requires Urban Water Management Plans to include information relating to the quality of existing sources of water available to an urban water supplier over given time periods and the manner in which water quality affects water management strategies and supply.
• Assembly Bill 901 (Daucher) - PDF 25KB


SB 221

SB 221 prohibits approval of subdivisions consisting of more than 500 dwelling units unless there is verification of sufficient water supplies for the project from the applicable water supplier(s). This requirement also applies to increases of 10 percent or more of service connections for public water systems with less than 500 service connections. The law defines criteria for determining "sufficient water supply" such as using normal, single-dry, and multiple-dry year hydrology and identifying the amount of water that the supplier can reasonably rely on to meet existing and future planned uses. Rights to extract additional groundwater, if used for the project, must be substantiated.
• Senate Bill 221(Kuehl) - PDF 27KB


The California Water Code

AB 3030 Groundwater Management Act

AB 303

The Local Groundwater Management Assistance Act of 2000 is designed to help local public agencies better understand how to manage groundwater resources effectively to ensure the safe production, quality, and proper storage of groundwater in California. It authorizes grants for local public agencies to conduct groundwater studies or to implement groundwater monitoring and management activities.
• Assembly Bill 303 (Thornson) - PDF 12KB