Russian River Flow

Dear Mike, et al,

Would it be possible or legal for the Water Agency, or the Army Corp of Engineers, to manage the flow in the Russian River a bit more precisely so as to balance the fluctuating needs of recreation, fish passage, flood control,  spawning, agriculture, etc?

I suspect that the migration periods of salmon are very determinable and may even be somewhat controllable based upon flows, the timing of the opening of the sand bar, video monitoring, etc. I know that recreational use in the Russian River is greatest on weekends and during specific events that are scheduled as much as a year in advance.  Most of these events do not occur at night with the exception of Monte Rio’s fire works event and perhaps Healdsburg’s similar fourth of July activities which could be coordinated.

Why release the same amount of water during day time and night time periods?  Why couldn’t the various dam releases that regulate river flows be marginally increased during these high recreation periods and fish passage periods.  Likewise why not marginally decrease these flows at night and during periods when no recreation is occurring and when human activities are diminished such as published and predictable mid week periods?  Could flows be regulated more exactly or even adjusted hourly based on the appropriate demand at that moment?

Perhaps this is already being done or there are technical problems that might be overcome with improvements to the dams release and control mechaniisms? How about looking at the weather forecasts with an eye toward predicting net pan evaporation peak periods? These factors could all be modeled in such a way as to save water when not needed and release it when it is needed.

I’m not talking about creating a feast and famine situation but marginally managing the system to allow more or less flow as rationally appropriate for the purpose of accommodating the important activities of all interests and weather conditions. As you know, an inch of water makes a big difference to a canoe, and a temperature change of one degree makes a big difference to a salmon. I am also concerned that lower flows are going to drain the tributaries and make them less habitable for fish in late summer.


Bob Rawson