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

Sept 9, 2003


The letter below is an historic document. It states, for the first time in Sonoma County history, that unlimited growth is finished. For ninety years, water from the Eel River has been diverted and made to flow into the Russian River. This water bounty has fueled growth. But a recent court decision will curtail these diversions. Exact figures of by how much is not known, nevertheless, the handwriting is on the wall.




August 11, 2003

TO: All Contractors, Customers, and Water Diverters under Agency Rights


The purpose of this letter is to provide you with current information regarding the Sonoma County Water Agency's (Agency) Russian River water supply and offer the Agency's assistance in compiling the data necessary to evaluate and track the adequacy of the remaining supply. We hope the information will assist you in preparing the water supply assessments and CEQA analysis now required by state law and in complying with Section 8(a) of the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Water Transmission System Capacity Allocation among the Agency's water contractors, Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), and the Town of Windsor (MOU).

The Sonoma County Water Agency's state water rights permits limit the Agency's Russian River diversions and re diversions to 75,000 acre feet per year. The Agency's Water Supply and Transmission System Project ("WSTSP") had contemplated an increase in diversions and rediversions to 101,000 afy. However, with the Court of Appeal decision in the Friends of the Eel River litigation, the Agency cannot implement the WSTSP at this time. Thus, it would be inappropriate for water suppliers relying on water diverted under the Agency's water rights to anticipate water deliveries based upon diversions of 101,000 afy, or to rely on the delivery estimates in the Agency's Urban Water Management Plan 2000 (which indicated that water supplies available to the Agency's water transmission Customers would be adequate over the next 20 years.) However, the analysis contained in the Urban Water Management Plan of the quantity of water available for diversion and rediversion remains valid.

Last year the Agency reported diversions and rediversions of 63,841 acre-feet, well below the Agency's current 75,000 afy limit. However, the additional amount of water that will be used by projects within the Agency's customers' service areas that have been approved but not yet completed is unknown. This information must be compiled in order to determine how much of the 75,000 afy remains available for projects that have yet to be approved.

The Agency's water supply and transmission facilities provide a primary water supply to a number of public water suppliers. In addition, other public water suppliers divert water directly from the Russian River under the Agency's water rights but do not use the Agency's water supply and transmission system. The enclosed table lists the public water suppliers that receive Russian River water under the Agency's water rights. The Agency's water supply facilities include five collector wells and seven conventional wells along the Russian River near Forestville. A sixth collector well is under construction and should be

P.O. Box 11628 - Santa Rosa, CA 95406 - 2150 W. College Avenue - Santa Rosa, CA 95401 - (707) 526-5370 - Fax (707) 544-6123

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completed in the summer of 2004. In addition, the Agency operates three wells in the Santa Rosa Plain to augment production capacity of the Russian River water supply facilities. The Agency's diversion of water from the Russian River is regulated by appropriative water right permits administered by the State Water 'Resource Control Board (SWRCB). The Agency developed the WSTSP to meet the future water demand that is contemplated by approved general plans governing the service areas of the Agency's contractors and customers. A component of the WSTSP consists of increasing the authorized total annual limit an diversions under the Agency's water rights from the currently approved 75,000 afy to the 101,000 afy discussed above. In the Friends of the Eel River litigation, the Court of Appeal concluded that the Agency's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the WSTSP was inadequate because it did not adequately consider the potential effects on the Russian River of potential reductions in diversions by PG&E's Potter Valley Project from the Eel River into the Russian River. Consequently, the WSTSP EIR must be supplemented to address the issues raised in the Court of Appeal ruling, and the Agency's Board of Directors must then reconsider the WSTSP. Until these issues are resolved and the SWRCB approves an increase in the annual limit in the Agency's water-right permits, the Agency's Russian River water supply will be subject to the existing limit of 75,000 afy.

In addition, as you are aware, coho salmon, steelhead, and Chinook salmon in the Russian River and its tributaries have been listed as "threatened species" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response to these listings, the Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District are involved in a Section 7 Consultation under the ESA with NOAA Fisheries (formerly National Marine Fisheries Service). One of the objectives of the Section 7 consultation is to ensure compliance of the Agency's operation of its current and future facilities with the ESA. The Agency does not expect to be able to seek approval from the SWRCB for any permanent increase in the 75,000 afy limit until the consultation has been completed.

The enclosed chart presents the past 10 years (1993 through 2002) of Russian River diversions under the Agency's water rights entitlement. The total diversions for water year 2002 from the Russian River under the Agency's water rights were 63,841 acre-feet. These diversions include: (1) water diverted to the Agency's transmission system For its contractors and customers (59,803 acre-feet in 2002); and (2) water diverted by other entities (4,038 acre-feet in 2002) under the Agency's water rights (i.e., the Russian River County Water District and the Town of Windsor) as authorized by contracts with the Agency. The enclosed chart does not include water that may in the future be diverted (but is not currently diverted) under the Agency's water rights by the City of Healdsburg, the Occidental Community Services District, and the Camp Meeker Parks and Recreation District under their contracts with the Agency. The petitions that would amend the Agency's water-rights permits to authorize these diversions are pending before, but have riot been acted on, by the SWRCB.

As previously mentioned, the Agency is providing this information to assist in the planning and CEQA activities of all public water suppliers that receive water from the Agency's water supply and transmission system facilities and those suppliers that report some of their diversions under the Agency's water rights. These planning efforts include complying with recent legislation requiring that public water suppliers with 3,000 or more service connections prepare water supply assessments (SB 610) or verification of sufficient water supply (SB 221) for certain development projects. Because there may be substantial delays before the Agency completes the supplemental WSTSP EIRE and the Board of Directors reconsiders the WSTSP, managers of all public water systems relying on water diverted under the Agency's water rights must work together with local planning agencies to determine the extent to which additional supplies are available to each system for proposed new developments, given existing demand, existing approved development, the

° The MOU was signed by the Cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sonoma, and Petaluma; the Valley of the Moon Water District, the Forestville Water District., the North Marin Water District, the Town of Windsor, the Marin Municipal Water District, and the Sonoma County Water Agency.

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water remaining available under the Agency's 75,000 afy limit and other supplies that each public water supplier may have available. While the Agency is in a position to monitor the amount of water that it delivers and is diverted under its water rights and provide that information to you, the Agency does not monitor either the amount of water you obtain from non-Agency sources or the planning and development within the service areas of each public water supplier.

As you know, Section 8(a) of the MOU, copy enclosed, specifies that the parties to the MOU will "consult with agencies that have planning and zoning powers within their water service territories." To provide a meaningful assessment and monitoring of water demand, the Agency urges your organization to undertake the coordination efforts outlined below. These activities should be coordinated with all water suppliers using Russian River water diverted under the Agency's water rights and their respective land use planning agencies. The MOU will expire on September 30, 2005 and the coordination outlined below will provide a basis for renegotiation or a successor agreement.

So that the Agency may assist you in the needed assessment, we recommend the following:

1. All water suppliers relying (entirely or in part) on water diverted under the Agency's water rights should immediately evaluate the expected future water demands for existing and approved development projects and provide the Agency and each other with that information. You should also identify the source of water for the projects (from the Agency, recycled, or other);

2. The Agency will compile the information and prepare a report for you so that you will be aware of how much of the 75,000 afy remains available for projects not yet authorized and approved;

3. All water suppliers should then evaluate the future water demands anticipated from proposed, but not yet approved, development projects. Again, upon receipt of the information, the Agency will compile the information into a report for each of you.

4. Staff of the Agency and water suppliers should meet at least every 6 months to review the information and monitor the status of proposed projects and identify other steps as may be necessary.

In the future, the Agency will also be able to compare actual diversions with previous estimates to track actual demand relative to estimated demand. Effective planning coordination activities will ensure our continued ability to provide a safe and reliable water supply. Should you have any questions regarding this matter please call either Pam Jeane or Jay Jasperse of my staff.


[original signed]

Randy D. Poole
General Manager/Chief Engineer
c George Flicks, Jim Flugum - City of Healdsburg Pete Parkinson - PRMD
Board of Directors
Pam Jeane, Jay Jasperse, Chris Murray, Bill Keene - SCWA
/u/admgt/janeg/rdp/08srussianriver diversions.doc

Public Water Suppliers Receiving Russian River Water Under Sonoma County Water Agency Water Rights

Transmission System Contractors City of Petaluma

City of Cotati
City of Rohnert Park
City of Santa Rosa
City of Sonoma
Valley of the Moon Water District
North Marin Water District
Forestville Water District

Transmission System Customers Town of Windsor

Kenwood Village Water Company
Penngrove Water Company
Marin Municipal Water District
Lawndale Mutual Water Company
California American Water Company

Non-Transmission System Public Water Suppliers(1)

Town of Windsor
Russian River County Water District

(1) Does not include water suppliers with agreements with the Agency that do not yet have
approval from the State Water Resouces Control Board to divert water under the Agency's water rights.

2. Add one operator shift at Stafford Treatment Plant during the summer months or make improvements to the plant to permit 24 hour per day operation to increase peak month
production capacity of the plant.

VOMWD: 1. Accelerate implementation of BMP 5 to July 1, 2001 as it pertains to: (1) offering water use surveys to customers with large landscapes; and (2), providing ETo based water use budget information to customers having dedicated irrigation meters.
2. In cooperation with Sonoma, undertake a demonstration project of the feasibility of a
service that efficiently operates irrigation time clocks at residential sites.

MMWD: 1. In cooperation with Las Galinas Sanitary District and subject to all applicable laws, codes and regulations, evaluate the feasability of expanding the advanced wastewater treatment plant and recycled water transmission and distribution system to deliver approximately 3.0 mgd of recycled water that will offset potable water use.

Windsor: I. Accelerate implementation of BMP 5 to July 1, 2001 as it pertains to: (1) offering water use surveys to customers with large landscapes; and (2), providing ETo based water use budget information to customers having dedicated irrigation meters.
The obligations set forth in this section may be amended in the same manner as set fourth in Section 4 (d) of this MOU.


(a) The parties to this MOU agree to consult with agencies that have planning and zoning powers within their water service territories in the manner set forth in California Government Code Section 65352.5 in order to promote close coordination and consultation between water supply agencies and land use approval agencies to ensure that proper water supply planning
occurs in order to accommodate projects that will result in increased demands on water supplies

(b) The parties to this MOU agree to consult with agencies that have building regulatory powers pursuant to the Government Code and Health and Safety Code to promote use of water conservation equipment, fixtures, appliances, devices and techniques.


(a) Effective the date of this MOU, the Agency has determined that surplus water shall only be made available to water contractors for their direct use or for delivery to their surplus water use customers at rates and on such terms said water contractors shall solely determine.


Many useful links in the library. Click above.

O.W.L. Foundation


Support your O.W.L. Foundation


The Sonoma County Water Agency

Friends of the Eel River

The Eel River Suit and Court Opinion

Friends of the Eel River official statement

FOER strategy




Interestingly, Miles Ferris, representing the City of Santa Rosa, presides over who runs the WA. Ferris acknowledged that a MORATORIUM on further development is now a possibility.