Help Defend the Listing of Coho Salmon

I am asking for monetary support to help defend the listing of Coho salmon as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

Recently a trial court spurned a legal challenge to the listing of Coho salmon as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act – CESA..

The CESA listing for Coho is important and provides enforceable language to support land use and water use activity for recovery of the species (See Coho Recovery Guidelines at the DFG website). Actions include language for stream protection, water use and diversion, and some logging regs.

Ag and timber interests have chosen to appeal the lower court decision and challenge the listing in the State Court of Appeals. See message, below, from CalTrout – litigation lead.

Defending our position will cost money. I would like to raise $2,000 to add to the $5,000 to $7,000 already committed – with a total goal of about $10,000.

Please help support our position(and our rivers and fish) in the courts with a donation.

Please write a check to CalTrout for $50, $100, or more. Identify your check for “Coho defense”.

Please send checks to me – or – CalTrout at addresses noted below in this e-mail.

If you mail a check directly to CalTrout, please let me know so I can keep track of funds and checks.

Thank You!

The appeal for the coho litigation has been filed (see the attached notice).

The most notable things are:
1) CFA et al. (the petitioners and plaintiffs) are now represented by Pacific Legal Foundation
2) California Chamber of Commerce, Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce and Save our Scott and Shasta Valleys, Inc. are not listed on the appeal as petitioners and plaintiffs
3) The petitioners and plaintiffs have elected to proceed without using the trial courts record (reporter’s transcript or clerk’s transcript) but rather by creating their own by appendix
4) The petitioners and plaintiffs opening brief is due no later than 70 days (12/20/06) from this notice of appeal, and ours is due within 30 days after theirs (1/19/07)
5) My understanding is that if we win on appeal and it is published the case will then be precedent setting

We will need to raise additional funds to meet this challenge and might also want some organizations/groups to file Amicus Briefs.

Please let me know who is willing to assist in this effort. We have far too much invested to discontinue with this important effort to protect fish and watersheds.

Best wishes,
Tom

Thomas J. Weseloh
Northcoast Manager, California Trout
1976 Archer Rd.
McKinleyville, CA 95519
707 839-1056 phone
707 839-1054 fax
www.caltrout.org

Alan Levine
Coast Action Group

Waterborne Drugs A Growing Concern

By Mike Lee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

JOHN GIBBINS / Union-Tribune

Water samples from Otay are prepared for analysis at the San Diego Water Department’s water quality laboratory.

At homes across San Diego, thousands of residents take medications each day for everything from Alzheimer’s disease to sexual dysfunction. But their bodies don’t absorb 100 percent of each drug. The unused portion is excreted and – literally – flushed down the toilet along with whatever outdated pills that people might dump into the bowl for disposal.

From there, the medicine mixes with cleaning agents, hormones, plasticizers and a plethora of other compounds in the city’s wastewater.

Under a controversial proposal to be considered by a City Council committee tomorrow, some of the water treated at San Diego’s North City Water Reclamation Plant would be purified enough to become drinking water. The effort is designed to reduce the region’s reliance on imported water.

But what about drugs and other possibly dangerous substances that might remain in the recycled water?

Water providers don’t routinely check for pharmaceuticals, personal-care products or numerous other substances that scientists call “emerging contaminants.” Sewage plants aren’t designed to remove them. Neither federal nor state agencies regulate them in water supplies. And California hasn’t taken some of the most basic steps to keep them out of the state’s waters.

Continue reading “Waterborne Drugs A Growing Concern”

Santa Rosa NPDES Permit Appeal and Letter by RW and CAG

See attached appeal by River Watch and Coast Action Group and letter pasted below to Santa Rosa City Council from Coast Action:

Dear City Council Members:

The City of Santa Rosa has filed an appeal to their new Wastewater NPDES permit.

As stated previously, I think this is a mistake as the permit was quite lenient – allowed for discharge beyond acceptable standards and allowed for pollution trading as a method to reach “Zero” discharge.

Northern California Riverwatch and Coast Action Group have filed a petition with the SWRCB requesting compliance with the Clean Water Act, State Water Code, and the Basin Plan for the North Coast Region. I suggest you take the time to read the petition.

As you can see, the NPDES process can, should, and will likely become more arduous. It is time to look at future outcomes and options rather than adhering to the policy of hiring experts and lawyers that can do little to change the inevitable (under the law). Solving this problem mandates personal understanding and involvement by those in charge of the process – the City Council.

For many years you have committed, on a yearly basis, millions of dollars in ways that have not and will not work for the interests if the City. This several million dollars per year expenditure adds little to problem resolution. It only retards progress towards a solution and misdirects dollars that could have been spent on solutions. It should also be added that the burden of these expenses related to increased discharges is unfairly supported by the historic base of ratepayers when new development should support additional increased costs for the need for pollution control.

Outcome of the Petition(s)

As stated previously, the State Board may chose not to hear either petition. If the State Board hears the petition(s) the outcome may be a stronger permit.

Are the petition(s) preludes to litigation. I hope not. This is always a possibility. Again. looking at the law fair argument can be made for a stronger permit – with time and money wasted will be the final result.

Outcome of Laguna TMDL

The Laguna will remain listed as impaired (contrary to efforts of your consultants who against all evidence still claim that the City’s wastewater is not a contributor and their is no science to show nutrients are causing the problem).

The Regional Board has given staff direction to move forward with the TMDL (and Action Plan) for the Laguna. The TMDL will find that the Laguna is grossly overloaded with nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) the are having a biostimulatory effect and creating a public nuisance – ludwigia problem.

It will be found that the contributing factors are: Santa Rosa City Wastewater, Agriculture, Santa Rosa City Stormwater (development, urban runoff, other sources), , and County Stormwater Sources (not necessarily in order of contribution size).

Of all the sources listed above, which is most controllable? The Basin Plan mandates the limitation of any controllable pollutant input to an impaired waterbody. It is fairly obvious what inputs will be limited right off the bat – wastewater. Ag and stormwater contributions will be dealt with next.

Areas where the City can make progress in pollution trading:

The current NPDES permit, as written, allows for final pollutant input goal of “Zero” to be accomplished via pollution trading. It would be wise for the City to take this up as progress in this are can be cost effective and show results in the short term. Stormwater pollutant inputs into the Laguna (and Santa Rosa Creek) are probably more nutrient rich and chemical laden than the wastewater discharges. The City probably can get Regional Board, EPA, technical and funding help in dealing with this problem.

With the City’s consultants and resources still rigidly married to the idea that fighting the NPDES permit and ignoring the Laguna and stormwater problems, it will be difficult to get movement going in a new direction.

Below are some notes from previous communications with the City on the Stormwater issue:

I like the Prince Greenway and use it all the time. It is a great asset to the City.

However it has nothing to do with protecting the Beneficial Uses of Water.

Santa Rosa Creek (and tribs) are a mess and deliver pollutants to the Laguna. Santa Rosa Creek is listed as impaired for pathogens, temperature, sediment, nutrients, etc.. Not much is going on, in the case of the City, in terms of restoration and/or protect beneficial uses by limiting pollutant inputs. This problem exacerbates conditions on the Laguna – which intern compromises with the City’s waste water NPDES permit.

The City’s Stormwater Ordinance and implementation program is out to lunch (ineffective and not be enforced). This adversely influences the problems mentioned above.

My suggestions to start to initiate remedy (areas where the City can start working )are:

* Put more toilets where indigent folks can have access and not poop in the Creek(s).

* Do better enforcement on storm water issues.

* Initiate an education and enforcement program for dog poop animal waste control

* Do more waste water recycling for irrigation. You are already moving in this direction – more can be done. This suggests less need for nutrients to support plant growth as the recycled water is nutrient rich. Thus, the City can ask SR residents, via an education program, to use less nutrients for lawns and gardens

* Work with, and/or comment on, Sonoma County programs (i.e. GP 2020) where the County has jurisdiction on responsibility for activities that effect Santa Rosa Creek and Laguna resources. The City has been silent here. This needs to change. What the County does in this area effects the City.

* Get expert opinion for basis in Santa Rosa Creek (and tributary) activities that would provide protection and restorative process.

Finally: The Laguna ( and Russian River) TMDL will indicate activity necessary to comply with beneficial uses protection for Santa Rosa Creek as well as the Laguna. Consultation with the Regional Board staff to address issue will be necessary. It would be wise to start this process immediately so as not to waste money and resources. The Regional Board staff are well versed in the issues and can be helpful in solving some of these problems for the City.

It might be wise not to place all bets on your attorneys and consultants – do some research on you own. It will be way less expensive than blindly going down the same path.

Summary of NPDES conditions

The NPDES was adopted by the Board, in total, and then amended with the following exceptions related to the three basic outstanding issues:

1) Monitoring at point of discharge – The City of Santa Rosa may submit an alternative monitoring plan within 180 of adoption of the permit. The RB EO has 90 days to accept, reject, or work out modifications of any proposed alternative monitoring plan. Then, the City must implement in 90 days.

2) Sanitary Sewer Overflows prohibition – remains in the permit in original form

3) Biostimulant Limitations – Revision of language with Alternative (g) – reopening language

(g) The Discharge can complete a study justifying alternative final numerical limitation that demonstrates, if alternative limitations are allowed, will not violate receiving water standards – violate water quality objectives for the Laguna. The RB can reopen the order and make modifications.

(g) Existing water quality effluent limitations for biostimulants will stand. Such limitations may be adjusted by TMDL findings. “No net loading” effluent limitations can be met by; 1) reducing effluent concentrations, 2) reducing loads through recycling, 3) reducing loads by offset trading with other sources. This reopener is attached to the completion of the above mentioned study.

4) The Board gave staff direction to start moving on the TMDL for the Laguna. This may settle or adjust some issue.

Thus, the future of the NPDES is attached to the TMDL for the Laguna and the Russian River

In the interim, mass loading limits are in force. I am not sure about the final limitation. Historic inputs of 270,000 pounds of N and 48,000 pounds of P seem like a lot – while the City of Santa Rosa continues to deny that nutrients are impacting the Laguna. Under the NPDES permit, compliance with Water Quality Objectives are mandated to occur in 5 years. The EPA may agree with the above noted changes – or – they may indicate and require some changes.

Alan Levine
Coast Action Group

10192006finalsantarosapetitionforreviewnoattachment.pdf

Santa Rosa Water and Population

Daisy Pistey-Lyhne – Greenbelt Alliance wrote:
Thought you all might be interested in reading about a recent meeting between Concerned Citizens for Santa Rosa, and Dick Dowd of the Board of Public Utilities. He mentioned some info given to him by Brenda Adelman.

From: Anne Seeley, Concerned Citizens for Santa Rosa

Our guest today was Dick Dowd, Chairman of the Board of Public Utilities. He was invited as a result of his recent declaration to the City Council that future water supply options are limited and that the Urban Reuse Water Program (URWP) being considered as part of the Incremental Wastewater Reuse Program is the best way to offset potable water use.

Dick described the dual responsibilities of the BPU: to ensure water supply as well as handle the wastewater treatment and disposal side. Our current system was created on the basis of older General Plans in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park than current ones predicting 30,000 more residents. In addition, there are the challenges of the California Toxics Rule and new plans for protection of California Tiger Salamander.

The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) has been to Washington D.C, trying unsuccessfully to obtain greater river water supplies. Dick described the 4 options for ensuring adequate drinking water: 1) greater supply from the river; 2) groundwater – studies are underway on this and 3 or 4 new wells have been drilled that yielded poor quality and/or quantities of water; 3) agricultural reuse offsets for potable water – the North County Ag District, for which the Geysers pipeline was upsized, hasn’t resolved its disputes over where storage ponds will be provided and how such water will then be shared; 4) an Urban Reuse program which could offset with recycled water the good drinking water that irrigates golf courses, parks, large multi-family housing projects and large commercial site plantings.

It was interesting that he described the suggested pipeline from Lake Sonoma to the river option as being a $500 million to $1 billion project, and very difficult to pull off.

For the URWP, storage is needed, just as in the ag projects. One reservoir site being considered is at Place To Play. The projected cost is $120 million. Currently, service to homes is not being considered, as there are risks with over-irrigating, and monitoring of thousands of homes by the BPU staff would be impossible.

On the wastewater side, Dick said that options being considered are sending up to 19 million gallons a day, up from 11 now, and switching the discharge site from the Laguna to direct discharge to the river. {Studies are underway re indirect vs. direct discharge, but my impression is that direct discharge is going to happen.} For conservation, the city has installed about 50,000 1.6 gallon toilets, and is now planning a program for “double flush” toilet installations.

Brenda Adelman has provided the BPU with analyses of recent population changes versus increases in treatment plant volumes, showing that the city’s projections for sewage flows are overstated, resulting in bigger program plans. Len Holt asked if the EPA is considering rules on endocrine disruptors in recycled water, and didn’t get an answer, as Dick described the multiple challenges the system has to meet.

Hi river lovers:

The City keeps saying they need to discharge as much as 4.5 billion
gallons during wet years. I pointed out that they only discharged 1.3
billion last year which was a VERY wet year. (The 4.5 BGY is really based
on pre-Geysers discharges).

The only reason they need to discharge during wet years is because they have leaky pipes that allow great amounts of infiltration. The pipes were built to last about 50 years at most, but the City has a 120 year “aggressive” replacement schedule. They find it easier to just engineer solutions that involve high costs and environmental destruction.

More conservation, fixing their pipes at a 50 year, rather than 120 year
cycle, and sending a little more to the Geysers, would solve the problem
without river discharge. The summer irrigation program they are planning
for $1.25 Million is not going to help a lot in the winter time unless they
have humungous storage ponds to store the water. Furthermore, there is
great risk of “incidental” runoff in the summer, during the no discharge
season, when creeks and people are much more vulnerable.

Brenda

PS: The growth chart shows that SR and RP only project 30,000 more people
by 2020 (recent articles in PD imply GP projections may not reach that
however). The Growth chart shows past growth, as well as additions to flow
to Treatment Plant (TP) from that growth. The point of the second chart is
that wastewater production from anticipated growth is not keeping pace with
estimates. In 1985, flow to the TP was around 13 million gallons (MG) and
now it’s about 17.5 MG. That’s 4.5 MG in 20 years. Yet the City is
projecting twice as much to serve 30,000 people only 14 years from now. It
just doesn’t add up. The City is greatly inflating their numbers.


Identifying A New Generation Of Byproducts From Water Disinfection

Source: American Chemical Society

California scientists have identified a “new generation” of by-products of the disinfection processes used to purify drinking water at municipal water treatment plants. Such compounds, which wind up in drinking water, are termed disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency currently regulates some as potential health risks.

Stuart W. Krasner and colleagues tested water from 12 treatment plants specifically chosen for waters high in DBP precursors and natural organic matter in order to facilitate detection of DBPs. They tested the water for levels of regulated DBPs and 50 unregulated DBPs regarded as posing the greatest health risks. Their report is scheduled for the Dec. 1 issue of the semi-monthly ACS journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

Some treatment plants have switched from chlorine to alternative disinfectants such as ozone, chlorine dioxide and chloramines to minimize formation of DBPs. The alternative disinfectants minimized formation of some regulated DBPs. However, researchers found higher levels of other regulated and unregulated DBPs in water from plants using alternative disinfectants.

The researchers also found 28 previously unreported DBPs. Toxicity studies are needed to help determine the health implications of these emerging DBPs, researchers indicated.

Preserving Clean Water by Preserving Open Space

Jane’s letter to the PD:

Dear Editors,

I loved the Yes on F mailer, target of Chris Coursey’s politically-based critique. In the past, preserving clean water resources may have been seen as just a side benefit of preserving undeveloped lands for parks, resource conservation, and agricultural land preservation–but I challenge Mr. Coursey to name a more important resource than clean water. That mailer displays the success of a many-year citizen-based campaign to educate the County on the water-protective benefits of open space preservation.

Mike Dombeck, a former U.S. Forest Service Chief, once said: “I’m worried that we may, as a society, lose our appreciation of what the land does for us; why open space is important Š The fact that a single tree sequesters about 13 pounds of carbon each year. That a single tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe. The water filtration functions of the vegetation on the landscape. It’s important for people to appreciate and connect to the land.”

New York City has known this for generations. Because New York long ago put its money into preserving the Catskills lands that yield its water supply, New York City residents pay the least of any eastern U.S. city and have the purest water. The strategy is much cheaper than building and maintaining industrial centers for treating drinking water, and all citizens benefit from it. Sonoma County citizens should start demanding that their water suppliers adopt similarly conserving policies.

Instead of criticizing the Open Space District’s focus on water, let’s celebrate its purchases that protect over 10,000 acres of major ground water basins or natural recharge areas, and over 56,000 acres that drain to those areas, plus the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek, Paulin Creek a large part of Dry Creek, and more. Yes on F!

Jane Nielson
President, Sebastopol Water Information Group

Stream Protection Resources

Caitlin,
Here are some stream protection resources you requested. I had a hard time narrowing things down, some of this you probably have, but I hope they’re useful.

POLICY

  1. http://www.epa.gov/nps/ordinance/buffers.htm
    EPA model ordinance language with issues and examples.
  2. http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/rwqcb2/download/bufferreport1204.pdf
    SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board survey and paper on riparian ordinances and issues surrounding them.
  3. Berkeley Summary
    Document by Berkeley Creeks Task Force with lessons learned and recommendations.
  4. Santa Clara RiparianCorridor Study
    Used in the development of the Santa Clara Creeks Protection Ordinance. Good summary of considerations and science.
  5. OrdinanceGuideOalkand
    Example of a good local stream protection ordinance.
  6. NapaSetbackTechnicalMemoExerpts
    Jones & Stokes Memo with summary of science and policy of stream setbacks.
  7. SetbackLaw
    Summay of relevant case law dealing with stream buffers and takings by Ellison Folk, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP

SCIENCE

  1. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/stream_restoration/
    Good summary of stream science from a consortium of 15 federal agencies.
  2. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10327.html
    National Research Council book on riparian area science and management.

IMPLEMENTATION

  1. http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/wetmeasures/
    National Management Measures to Protect and Restore Wetlands and Riparian Areas for the Abatement of Nonpoint Source Pollution by EPA. Good federally endorsed BMPs.
  2. Stream Protection Local Governments
    This has a short section on building community support as well as other resources.
  3. http://www.americaspeaks.org/lab/docs/ibm_managers_guide.pdf
    How to engage stakeholders and facilitate buy-in.

Ben Livsey
Environmental Specialist
California Regional Water Quality Control Board
San Francisco Bay Region
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612
blivsey@waterboards.ca.gov
(510)-622-2308

RRWRC Suing Sonoma County Water Agency

Hi Water Friends:

Russian River Watershed Protection Committee (RRWPC) would like to announce that we have hired Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger to assist us in opposing one of the most egregious CEQA violations that we have ever seen.

The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), as operators and managers of the Russian River County Sanitation District (covering Rio Nio, Guerneville, Guernewood Park, Vacation Beach, and Drake Rd. area) have been attempting to regionalize the Treatment Plant of the RRCSD for 11 years now, without serious regard for the environmental impacts of such a project.

SCWA first issued an EIR for expanding RRCSD in 1998 that took 2.5 years to complete and cost $600,000 of ratepayer funds and was thrown out by the District Directors (SC Board of Supervisors) before the final hearing because it lacked an adequate project description. We have heard of no other instance where Supervisors have dismissed a final EIR under such circumstances before or since. SCWA has not been shy about refusing to be bothered with operating small wastewater disposal systems and have wanted to enlarge RRCSD all along. They simply fail to appreciate the special needs of our unique environment and the potential harm that will result from big engineering solutions.

Soon after (1999) Directors decided to use the 1976 EIR to complete part of the Treatment Plant expansion. RRWPC legally challenged the use of a 23 year old EIR to the Appellate level, but County Counsel informed the court that this expansion was for current ratepayers only and under orders from the Regional Board. The purpose, they said, was to better serve the system during flood periods when the treatment plant gets inundated from flood waters getting into the system (which was poorly built in the first place). The Court refused to allow evidence to the contrary, contained within the rejected EIR. Unfortunately, we lost our case and the $4.5 million dollar expansion was built.

At the present time, SCWA is moving forward on FOUR additional EIR’s for the same project (regionalization of RRCSD). Last April they released a Notice of Preparation for an EIR (NOP) for a new equalization storage basin. Most recently they issued an NOP on an outrageously sized irrigation pipeline, which focuses on a 15-18 mile pipeline project to irrigate vineyards in the Green Valley area, and does not even consider an affordable, local Guerneville project irrigating redwood trees. (deadline for comments just closed) (Please see our attached comments detailing our concerns)

At the same time, SCWA has made Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District lead Agency for a pipeline project to hook Camp Meeker and Occidental to the RRCSD. They loaned CM the money for the project; they absolved them of any legal liability, and as operators and managers of the Occidental CSD, which will be part of the project, they appear to be as legally responsible for this EIR as Camp Meeker. We feel they should be joint lead agencies on the EIR, which is possible under CEQA law.

Finally, an NOP must be imminent for a new disinfection system, which is the reason why RRCSD violates its permit almost every winter. This is an essential component of this expansion. All of these projects, but for the CM/Occ pipeline, are noted as projected capital improvements for 2006-2011 under RRCSD projections in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan. Interestingly, the County has not included hooking Occ. to RRCSD as part of their Capital Improvements projections, even though they are the main reason for the pipeline (under serious orders from the North Coast Board).

RRWPC feels strongly that a comprehensive EIR covering ALL anticipated project areas must be developed. (We believe that possibly Monte Rio and many properties now on septic would also be added to the expanded system. They should also be covered in a comprehensive EIR.) WE HAVE INCREDIBLY RICH NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE WEST COUNTY AND WE FEEL THAT THIS PROJECT WILL PUT THEM AT GREAT RISK!

We would appreciate any support you can give. We have spent the last 11 years fighting for an adequate environmental review process. Many of you are quite familiar with SCWA tactics and know from experience what we are dealing with here. While RRWPC does not think expanding a system that lies in a major flood plain is a good idea, we would be more open to such an idea were there a full-blown open review of how this could be done with minimum harm to the environment. We hope you can support our effort. It will not be easy.

To start, we attach two letters that explaining the issues in more detail. These are RRWPC’s and our attorney’s comments on the proposed irrigation project, but they are REALLY about the situation described above. We hope you can find the time to read them and pass them on to others who may have interest in this situation.

We are thrilled to be working with one of the top environmental firms in Northern California. We are very pleased with the letter written by Ellison Folk of that firm. In the future, unless the County revises its direction on this issue, we will be needing to raise funds for this effort. We hope you will be able to help us in any way you can. Please let us know.

As for comments, two of the NOP deadlines have passed. When the EIRs are released and new comments are necessary, we will let you know. The Camp Meeker/Occ. Pipeline project will take comments until Oct. 30th. Written comments should be addressed to:

Brelje & Race Consulting Engineers
5570 Skylane Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Attn: Justin Witt

WE HOPE YOU WILL SUPPORT THE IDEA OF ONE COMPREHENSIVE EIR TO COVER THESE AND RELATED PROJECTS!!! If you have clout with Supervisor Reilly, it may help if you communicated with him about this.
Brenda Adelman

SCWA Responds to SR’s Wastewater Discharges

This draft letter from SCWA by Randy Poole to the City of Santa Rosa is fascinating.

Stephen

September 25, 2006

Pat Fruiht, City Manager’s Office

City of Santa Rosa

P.O. Box 1678 Santa Rosa, CA 95402-1678

Re: Discharge Compliance Project

Dear Ms. Fruiht,

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Agency) has reviewed the Initial Study, Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and Draft Engineering Report for the City of Santa Rosa’s (City) Incremental Recycled Water Program – Discharge Compliance Project (Discharge Compliance Project).

The Agency’s comments are focused on concerns regarding 1) potential conflicts with the proposed expansion of the Agency’s water supply facilities; 2) potential water quality concerns regarding how the City’s project could impact the way the Agency’s facilities are operated; 3) how the City’s project could impact listed fish species and recovery planning efforts in the Russian River; and 4) that the City should focus on reuse of this resource instead of disposal into the Russian River.

The City’s proposed Discharge Compliance Project proposes a new direct or indirect wastewater discharge location along the Russian River. The Agency operates six collector wells along the Russian River in the Mirabel and Wohler area which supply drinking water for approximately 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin Counties, including residents of the City.

In addition, the Agency has been evaluating an expanded water supply system which could include new collectors upstream of the Agency’s existing collectors. Similar to the results shown for river discharge locations in the City’s Draft Engineering Report for the Discharge Compliance Project, there may be only a few locations along the Russian River that are suitable for the Agency to install water diversion structures and pipelines.

In addition, the features that make a site suitable for a river discharge location may also be the same features that make a site suitable for water diversion facilities. The Agency is concerned that the City’s Discharge Compliance Project could have detrimental impacts on the planned infrastructure necessary for the Agency’s water supply project and may cause significant delays in the Agency’s environmental review process.

Attached is a map from the Agency’s Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the Agency’s Water Supply, Transmission and Reliability Project which shows the area of interest for the Agency’s future water supply facilities along the Russian River.

The Agency recommends that the City coordinate with the Agency so that the City’s Discharge Compliance Project doesn’t impact the Agency’s ability to construct future water supply facilities. The Agency and its customers (including the City) have benefited from having water supply facilities that provide a high quality source of drinking water that is relatively inexpensive to operate.

The only treatment necessary beyond the natural filtering provided by the sand and gravel materials along the Russian River is: 1) the addition of chlorine to provide a residual amount of disinfectant throughout the transmission system; and 2) the addition of sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH of the water. The Agency and its customers have not had to share in the expense of constructing and operating a surface water treatment plant.

The potential impact of a new wastewater discharge location on the Russian River, which could jeopardize the way the Agency’s existing water supply facilities are operated, needs to be considered. Accordingly, the Agency has brought this item before the Technical Advisory Committee of the Water Advisory Committee (TAC/WAC) in October (2006) to have the TAC/WAC provide direction on what position the Agency should take with regards to the City of Santa Rosa’s Discharge Compliance Project.

***additional comments from TAC/WAC to be added here***

Attached are copies of comments from the Agency submitted to the City January 12, 1987 and October 7, 1996 with regards to a proposed Russian River wastewater discharge associated with the City’s Long- Range Wastewater Management Plan and Subregional Long-Term Wastewater Project. These comments from 1987 and 1996 express the Agency’s concerns with how a direct wastewater discharge into the Russian River could impact the Agency’s water supply facilities due to the presence of pathogens and inorganic and organic compounds that may be present in the wastewater.

The concerns brought up in these comment letters are still valid and currently there are additional concerns that need to be addressed associated with the emerging issue of pharmaceuticals and personal care products that may remain in treated wastewater. Pharmaceutically active compounds (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, and aspirin) and numerous personal care products (such as fragrances and sunscreens) and drugs from a wide spectrum of therapeutic classes can enter waterways through a variety of routes including treated wastewater.
The City should study what potential impacts to water supplies and the aquatic environment could occur as a result of discharging the City’s wastewater into the Russian River. Since 1991, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has listed twenty-six Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) of salmonids on the Pacific Coast as endangered or threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA requires that recovery plans be developed and implemented for the conservation and survival of these species.

For recovery planning, NMFS has divided the ESUs on the Pacific Coast into nine geographic domains and will develop recovery plans for each. The Russian River watershed is part of the North-Central California Coast Recovery Planning Domain (Planning Domain), which encompasses watersheds from Mendocino County to Santa Cruz County and supports populations of coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead.

These populations of salmonids have been federally listed as Threatened or Endangered since the late 1990’s. Efforts to restore habitat and identify what is needed to recover these populations have been ongoing ever since. In the Russian River some of these efforts have included implementation of the coho salmon broodstock program at the Don Clausen Hatchery, many habitat restoration and fish passage projects funded through the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (and other state and local funding sources), as well as, completion of a state recovery strategy for California coho salmon.

While these efforts have fostered the development of federal-state- local partnerships in salmonid recovery and conservation, little real progress can be made without the commitment and involvement of the state and local entities affected by the listings.

Recognizing this, beginning in February and again in June of 2006, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency approved funding assistance to NMFS to facilitate the development of federal recovery plans for coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead in our region. Additionally, the Agency’s Board approved funding to support the development of a local plan to begin implementing early recovery actions as specified in the state’s coho recovery strategy and to support a position at NMFS to work with agencies and landowners toward development of a salmonid conservation plan for Alexander and Dry Creek valleys.

To these ends the Agency has provided over $700,000 in funds and proposes to continue supporting development of recovery plans on two fronts. The first, by identifying local solutions that address salmonid fisheries and that are compatible with local responsibilities, and the second by acquiring, collecting, and developing the data needed to assess factors limiting salmonid recovery in all the watersheds that make up the ESU.

On September 11, 2006, NMFS published their intent in the Federal Register to prepare recovery plans for all the listed ESUs of salmon and distinct population segments (DPS) of steelhead in California by January 2008. Given the considerable federal, state and local effort to support recovery plan development for the salmonid populations in our Planning Domain, the City should in the Discharge Compliance Project EIR evaluate how the City’s project could impact these three listed fish species in the Russian River watershed and identify ways in which the City can help with recovery planning efforts.

The Agency recommends that instead of looking at disposal into the Russian River that the City view this wastewater as a valuable resource that can be utilized to offset potable water use through urban reuse to directly offset Russian River water and for agricultural reuse (such as that being studied for the proposed North Sonoma County Agricultural Reuse Project) which can help reduce the reliance on groundwater and help reduce the need for surface water diversions. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on this project.

If you have any questions regarding the comments, please contact me at 547-1900.

Sincerely,
Randy D. Poole General Manager/Chief Engineer