Don and all –

I’m beginning to think that the selection of 2004 by SWRCB (and SCWA) as the base reference year was not an accident – that way many of the contractors can accurately claim to have already done the hard work of picking the low hanging fruit of conservation.  I’m sure that 2004 may well have had significant values as a base year, but there are other benefits as well.

You have to believe that SWRCB’s order based on 2004 could not have been produced out of the blue, with no consultation or conversations with SCWA staff.

This is even more interesting, in that SCWA’s water supplies from L. Sonoma are not in trouble at all. The real initiative was to keep sufficient water in L. Mendocino, with lower RR flows now, to have a water supply for fall run chinook – and to then see a parallel and very public effort to deliberately crank up the press stories about those big bad people in FERC, NMFS, CDFG, and the Eel River watershed who kept PGE from delivering the water that was ‘supposed’ to go to the E. Branch Russian River.  As Mike Reilly was quoted in the PD, ‘it’s a regulatory drought’, ie, a manufactured one.

Miles Ferris made it really clear at the WAC/TAC meeting that future growth is irrelevant in his calculations of Santa Rosa’s water diversions, as he minimized the impacts of SR’s growth over the next 6 months to being ‘only 0.1%’ of SR’s usage.  Was that residential?  commercial? industrial?  institutional?  Somehow, that 0.1% doesn’t seem to be in scale with what is planned. It would be great to ferret out those calculations on paper from him, and validate his computations.

Regarding your continued downward pressure on your household’s water demands,  Congratulations!
But the issue not addressed by the SWRCB order, nor by SCWA’s press releases and comments, and certainly not at the WAC/TAC meeting, is:  what’s the plan for next year?  and for the years after that? for the next 150 years?

The water engineers just want to get that damned pipeline and pumps built, so they get on to business as usual, and stop being in the spotlight and getting hassled by policy makers, the SWRCB and the pain-in-the-butt public and ratepayers.  “Jeez, won’t they all just quiet down and leave us alone already?”

Oh, wait. The ratepayers haven’t gotten in to this yet in a big way.  Hmmm, that offers some possibilities.

Have a great Celebration of Independents.


I got similar version from my Dad who went and all this talk about
demand hardening and “already conserving” is still missing the point of
the DWR Order. They are not asking for everyday water conservation ala the
BMP’s but 15% above and beyond whatever your base level was so Miles at SR
saying we’ve already done our part is still missing the point of DWR
mandatory conservation order.

Our family over the last three years prior to this April used an avg of 71
gal per person per day vs SR’s roughly 105-95 gal per person per day. In
May and June 2007 our family reduced to 48 gal per person per day from 75
gallons per day in may-june 2006 so the idea that previous conservation
prevents future conservation is a bunch of hooey!!

It’s time for the real conservationists to shine and show the WAC members
what it means, we’re shooting for 40 gal per day in July at our house!!

Enjoy a firesafe and waterwise 4th,

How are the Water Contractors going to meet the SWRCB-required
reductions in Russian River diversions?

While “earth shattering” wasn’t quite the phrase to describe today’s WAC
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting, there’s real Trouble right
here in River City.

Unanswered is a core question:
“just who is going to be responsible for cutting how much of their
water demands to meet the state required 15% reduction in RRiver
diversions from the 2004 baseline year, during the period from July 1 to
Oct. 28?”

Santa Rosa BPU and Rohnert Park some others claim they’re already
meeting that demand reduction, that they’ve hit ‘demand hardening’ and
limits to how much more they can do, and essentially that they won’t
have to do any more work to hit the marks in their cities.

Others, like North Marin WD, Petaluma and others are still working hard
to get their customers to cut back enough.

Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Valley of the Moon, Cotati, Healdsburg and
Sonoma said they are ramping up ‘local production’, ie, more pumping
from their municipal wells to help meet their cutback targets from SCWA
water supplies. (No mention was made by any of them of overdrafted
groundwater basins, no less impacts to them and their non-city residents
and farms of increased pumping.) (Randy Poole said that increased
groundwater pumping by Healdsburg up to their maximum legal limits “is a
problem for SCWA”. More to come on that.)

No one presented any figures on upstream Russian River agricultural and
municipal usage (Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Ukiah, various
Mendocino water districts, etc).
CWA (Randy Poole) said that demands on the Russian River were still
running some 350 acre feet in excess of the 15% target, about 11-12%
excess if taken as a trend for the period until Oct. 28.
Unfortunately, no one at the WAC/TAC meeting produced a spread sheet
with the 2004 diversion and use history, month by month, compared with
current demands, compared with where we collectively have to go for 2007
to meet SWRCB mandated targets.  Randy Poole offered the brief table in
a PD story 2 weeks ago as such a chart, but that wasn’t accepted by many
of those present as satisfactory.

Randy Poole suggested that SCWA may “not yet have enough tools in the
toolbox” to get to the required cut backs – perhaps implying that if the
trends aren’t corrected, the SWRCB may get a bit impatient and ratchet
up the demands for compliance.

There is also an understated but real disagreement between several contractors, expressed by NMWD’s Chris DeGabriele (also chairman of the TAC), and Santa Rosa (represented here by Mike Martini and Miles Ferris), over which if any provisions of the Restructured Water Agreement (section 3.5?  3.5a?  some other methodology?) would apply in these circumstances to the process of coming up with a methodology for establishing required water demand reductions for each water contractor. It is clear that there is currently no consensus agreement on how to determine the numbers for each contractor.  There will be a behind-the-scenes meeting between reps from NMWD, SR, VoM, Windsor and SCWA to begin hashing out the arrangements. There will be a proposal, or 2, to the WAC soon on how to resolve these questions. There were also questions to SR and RP as well (from Brenda Adelman and Dawna Gallagher) about the juxtaposition of asking existing residents and businesses to conserve water while the cities continued to issue more building permits. How much water is new construction expecting over the next 6 months, relative to the 15% reduction targets? Miles Ferris finally answered that his quick calculations showed that all the new construction in SR would only add 0.1% to the city’s total water demands through the end of the year, and was thus inconsequential in the large scheme of things.

That will be a question that residents and businesses will have to look closely at, and determine if that’s still ok with them.  Stay tuned for the next chapters. SCWA staff, Jake MacKenzie, NMFS and others are now being quoted saying that conservation is a way of life: get used to it. How this will affect growth projections or water supply balances by all the cities is yet to be seen.

David Keller
Bay Area Director Friends of the Eel River