Russian River Watershed Pathogen Prohibition of Discharge of Fecal Waste Materials

AUGUST 14, 2019 BEGINNING SOON AFTER 8:30 AM. 5550 Skylane Blvd., Santa Rosa, near the Sonoma County Airport.

This action will provide the basis for new septic management requirements. For instance:
Septic inspections by a qualified expert will need to take place every five years.

Cesspools will no longer be allowed, although if use is not expanded, low income people can put off changes for up to 15 years. Etc.
Most lower river septic owners will be affected by this new regulation, especially in Monte Rio and Villa Grande.
More stringent rules will apply to properties within 600’ of the Russian River or blue stream tributaries (even if only part of your property is within 600’). This may include supplementary treatment if soils are found to be inadequate at filtering pathogens.

The approved documents are subject to review by other State Agencies and nothing will be considered final all approvals are received, which is expected to be about a year from now. Timelines will kick in at that point.

Thanks for supporting the lower Russian River and RRWPC’s work.

There is information on live-streaming this meeting if you can’t attend in person in the Regional Board notice.

Brenda Adelman
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee

Newly Appointed Coastal Commissioner

Very good news. Kevin de Leon did make some very good appointments.


From Annie Notthof on the NRDC Web Site:

“Congratulations to my friend and colleague Linda Escalante, NRDC’s Southern California Legislative Director, for being appointed to the California Coastal Commission by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Linda has been standing up for clean water, clean air and environmental justice for over a decade. As an alternate Commissioner, appointed by former CA Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Le??n, for the past year, she has been a standout bridge builder and has a clear vision of the next era of coastal protection.”

Commissioner Escalante replaces outgoing Commissioner Mark Vargas.


About TMDLs

Russian River Interested Parties

Included (below) are some ideas and thoughts regarding the regulatory structure and review standards for this project.,

The Russian River TMDL and Implementation Plan is a CEQA based process. The Regional and State Board process is a Certified Regulatory Program (no full EIR is necessary – though compliance with CEQA standards are mandated by State Resources Code. Thus, there must be a full description of the project (environmental setting), potential impacts and outcomes, discussion of remedies to limit impacts provided – including the full range of feasible alternatives (the argument that some CEQA responsibilities can be ignored – as this project is improving environmental outcomes – does not stand) – and findings that logically support conclusions must be presented. Additionally, the agency must respond to all reasonable comments.

In my review of previous TMDLs and Implementation (Action) Plans – the RB does not always comply with the CEQA mandates – nor does the RB meet all requirement of Cal Water Code.

Not only is the TMDL and Implementation Plan a project under CEQA, it is a Water Quality Control Plan (and must meet the requirements of same under Cal Water Code 13242).

Cal Water Code (Section 13242) – Requirements of a Water Quality Control Plan (summarized):

Note: Impairment by listed pollutants – means – not meeting Water Quality Objectives (in the Basin Plan) + not meeting Beneficial Uses (= Water Quality Standards are not being met).
Thus – TMDL must identify sources of pollutants (and attach weighted responsibility to the sources), TMDL must establish acceptable levels of pollutants and the amount of specific pollutant reduction from the various sources need to attain Water Quality Standards (WQS).

A Water Quality Control Plan must:

1.) Describe all actions necessary to attain WQS

2). Have an Implementation Schedule for the employment of the noted actions (this schedule must be sufficient to attain WQS in a reasonable period of time)

3) There must be monitoring and adaptive feedback mechanism in place to assure effectiveness and compliance.

Thus all sources must be noted and controlled to the extent the reasonable progress of attainment of WQS will occur (and demonstrated by monitoring results – and – must be reasonably capable of attainment of acceptable results).

Review State Non-Point Source Policy for other requirements (that may apply) Note: NPS Policy is in the Basin Plan and, thus, enforceable.

If the above is not extant – and – the TMDL and Implementation Plan does not meet the above noted requirements – it must be noted in comments to the RB (to preserve legal standing).

Reliance on actions as yet to be defined or described (differred mitigations) are not acceptable under Cal Water Code and/or CEQA.

It is best to have some expert opinion in the file supporting your arguments on issues – and/or – peer review.

The EPA must approve the TMDL

The State Board must approve the TMDL and Implementation Plan (thus two shots at making your point – so – you may get a chance of going to Sacramento)

Finally – if there are issues – they must be submitted to the State Board – prior to any potential litigation (exhaust administrative remedies). If the State Board does not act in 180 days – then you have 30 days (I think) to file litigation.

Hopefully there will not be any problems (though I have seen that to occur).


Sharon’s Guide to Understanding Scientific Papers: I. Querying the Abstract

In the spirit of teaching a person to fish, I’ll explain my own process for reviewing scientific papers. Because I’ve been in the forest biology/forest ecology biz for almost 50 years, it may be easier for me. But I’m hoping that curious TSW readers will be able to adapt these steps for your own use, and I’ll give you some hints to make things easier. Along the way, you’ll also find out what peer reviewers may look at, and what they don’t or can’t. I hope others will share their own methods and shortcuts.

We’ll start with the paper Jon posted here:

1. Get a copy of the paper. Some may be open-source (yay!). The next step is to go to Google Scholar and look it up. Often you will find a copy for free there. The last step is to write the corresponding author (there’s usually an envelope and an email if you hover over the list of authors) and ask for a reprint. Back in the day, we would send each other postcards and slip copies in the surface mail. This is pretty much the modern equivalent of that process. So far, no one has turned me down or not replied to an email. That’s how I got the copy I am posting so thanks to author Thom Thom et al (2019) – The climate sensitivity of carbon, timber, and species richness co-varies with forest age in boreal-temperate North America

2. Look at the abstract with an eye to data sources, methods and conclusions. What are they measuring?
(one of the most difficult things to wade through is terminology, but it has to be done).

We focused on a number of ESB indicators to (a) analyze associations among carbon storage, timber growth rate, and species richness along a forest development gradient; (b) test the sensitivity of these associations to climatic changes; and (c) identify hotspots of climate sensitivity across
the boreal–temperate forests of eastern North America.

What is “ESB”? It’s some combination of ecosystem services and biodiversity. There are many indicators of those (e.g. genetic diversity of amphibians, species diversity of insects, and so on for biodiversity). So to relate what they measured to what we know, we’ll have to dive deeper into the methods section. We may have our own experiences with carbon measurements, but not so much with species richness.

The data used was FIA and other plot information, and they used modeling to test the sensitivity to climate change. By now, you may be curious and ask “how can you tell what climate change will do? how can you tell what aspects will be sensitive?” That again, will have to wait for methods section.

Next, I look for the conclusions in the abstract:

While regions with a currently low combined ESB performance benefited from climate change, regions with a high ESB performance were particularly vulnerable to climate change. In particular, climate sensitivity was highest east and southeast of the Great Lakes, signaling potential priority areas for adaptive management. Our findings suggest that strategies aimed at enhancing the representation of older forest conditions at landscape scales will help sustain ESB in a changing world.

Then I try to paraphrase it in my own words. I came up with “if you combine indicators, the regions with low marks get higher marks after climate change and regions that have high marks now will go down, that would be east and SE of the Great Lakes.” A natural question would be “do all indicators go the same way?” “How sensitive are these findings to the way you combine them and which ones you include?”

And how does the above relate to “old forest conditions” that strategies should enhance?

3. Write down your questions. This is particularly helpful if you can’t get back to this for a day or so. In this case, my questions would be:
a) what ESB indicators did they use? It sounds like carbon, timber and species richness, but it could be others as well.
b) how did they figure out what changes would occur due to climate change?
c) how did they figure out whether an indicator was sensitive to climate change?
d) do all indicators change in the same direction and/or how sensitive are the findings to the way they are combined and which ones are in and out?
e) how does all this relate to “old forest conditions?


Action for Clean Water: Tell Your Senator to support AB 756

To All,

According to a federal study, California has the most known detections of toxic PFAS chemicals in the nation. But that study only looked for very high levels of a mere six chemicals in a family of 5000.

Protecting the public from toxic PFAS chemicals will require having a true understanding of PFAS in our water supplies. AB 756 is a commonsense bill that clarifies the State Water Board’s role in requiring public water systems to monitor for any PFAS with a verified testing method. This would help reveal the true scope of the problem by monitoring for more chemicals than the federal government has looked for. It also requires that the public be notified when PFAS are found.

Please take a moment to tell your senator to vote for AB 756 (C. Garcia) when it comes up in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on June 19th.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is opposing the bill; they want the state to limit monitoring to a weak federal plan that focuses on only two PFAS chemicals. They also claim that notifying the public about these chemicals would be burdensome. In other words, they want to keep you in the dark about chemicals that have been linked to cancer, liver toxicity, disruption of the immune and endocrine systems, neonatal toxicity, and environmental damage.

We need you to counter ACWA’s position by telling your senator that you have the right to know what’s in your water.

Several states are way ahead of California in trying to find out how much PFAS is in their environment and regulating those chemicals in drinking water. Tell your senator today to make sure our safety doesn’t lag behind. Request that your senator vote yes on AB 756.

For Clean Water,
Andria Ventura
Toxics Program Manager

Guide to CA Water Rights for Small Water Users

Issues with and confusion about water rights & wrongs in California is something that often comes up in much of the in stream restoration work we do, whether in montane meadows, salmonid streams or riparian rangelands, thus I thought some of you would find this new Guide to CA Water Rights for Small Water Users written by TU’s amazing Mary Ann King & Matt Clifford to be well worth your time.

Mostly Water Rites,

I’m attaching a new Guide to CA Water Rights for Small Water Users that Matt Clifford and I wrote with assistance from the State Water Board and The Nature Conservancy. It’s intended to provide an introductory overview of water rights, with an emphasis on the issues likely to be encountered by smaller-scale water users (e.g., farmers and residents on coastal streams). We did our best to write it in plain English, and to explain what kinds of water rights a landowner may already have, what those rights allow them to do, what kind of additional water rights are available, and how to get them. We’re pretty pleased with how it came out, and hope it can help de-mystify a complex subject.

Please feel free to distribute it far and wide.

Here’s a blog post on the guide too:

All my best,

Mary Ann

Action: Trump wants to drill the Central Valley and coast

True to form and consistent with his administration’s desire to drain public lands of every last drop of their fossil fuel potential — despite scientific consensus of a climate crisis stemming from our dependence on them — President Trump’s Bureau of Land Management is trying to re-open 1 million acres of California’s public land and mineral estate for drilling and fracking.

Click the link below to read a little more and tell the BLM to stop this monstrous plan.


OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Regulating Perchlorate in Drinking Water

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks public input on a range of options regarding the regulation of perchlorate in public drinking water systems.

The agency is seeking comment on a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for perchlorate to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and a health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) at 56 micrograms per liter.

In addition, the agency is seeking comment on three alternative regulatory options:

·         An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 18 micrograms per liter.

·         An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 90 micrograms per liter.

·         Withdrawal of the agency’s 2011 determination to regulate perchlorate in drinking water.

The agency is requesting comment on all relevant aspects of the proposed rule but is especially interested in the perchlorate monitoring and reporting requirements for public water systems and a list of treatment technologies that would enable water systems to comply with the MCL, including affordable compliance technologies for small systems serving 10,000 persons or less. EPA is also requesting comment on its methodology for deriving the MCLG, the underlying assumptions and analysis of its cost and benefit estimates, and other specific items listed in the proposed rule.

Perchlorate is commonly used in solid rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, and signal flares. Perchlorate may occur naturally, particularly in arid regions such as the southwestern United States and is found as an impurity in hypochlorite solutions used for drinking water treatment and nitrate salts used to produce nitrate fertilizers, explosives, and other products.

EPA will accept public comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register via [Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0780].

For more information and to view the pre-publication version of the Federal Register Notice, visit

Water Boards Seeking Information on Streams and Watersheds

To all,

The California State Water Board is seeking information on watershed and streams so if you can help, there is a link below that will take you to where you can input the information.

Thank you.

Larry, CRW Web Manager

The Healthy Watersheds Partnership is conducting a literature review so we can create a resource/library on the website. Specifically we are looking for literature pertaining to the following topics:

defining watershed and stream “health”
data imputation methods
data aggregation and reduction
determining relative watershed health
climate change impacts to water quality
climate change impacts to beneficial uses

If you are aware of any literature related to these topics, we ask that you send us information about it by filling out the Google form. Thank you!


Anna Holder
California Sea Grant Fellow
Office of Information Management and Analysis
California State Water Resources Control Board
(916) 341-5286
1001 I Street, 19th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814