Sonoma County Water and Lake Sonoma

It was envisioned and built to support and encourage regional growth.

And 25 years later, there’s plenty of water in Lake Sonoma.

The problem is getting it to the Russian River, near Wohler Bridge; taking it out again; and distributing it.

A 6/22 PD story said,

“The dam created a lake that when filled covers 3,600 acres and has a 73-mile shoreline. Its Dry Creek arm is nine miles long and its Warm Springs arm four miles. It holds a water supply of 212,000 acre-feet and a flood pool of 130,000 acre-feet.”

“The Sonoma County Water Agency has rights to 75,000 acre-feet each year for the 600,000 residents it serves in the major cities and districts from Windsor to San Rafael. The problem, however, is how to get that water to the Russian River, where the Water Agency has its pumps and ponds.

It now depends on the flow down Dry Creek, which is too fast for the steelhead and salmon that populate the creek, said Dave Manning, the Water Agency’s senior environmental specialist.
While the agency, state and federal agencies study what the optimum flow should be, the Water Agency has already begun a study to build a pipeline down Dry Creek or West Dry Creek roads to the agency’s ponds near Wohler Bridge.”

The SC Supes are also the directors of the SC Water Agency; and in a PD Close To Home piece yesterday, Supes Mike Kerns and Mike Reilly wrote:

“While there is plenty of water in the lake to meet our needs, there are new challenges in getting that water to local residents and businesses.” “If communities grow as planned, more water will be needed. With increased conservation, there should be plenty in Lake Sonoma to meet demands. Again, the problem is getting it out of the lake and into faucets. At the behest of the six cities and two water districts that are its customers, the Water Agency has developed a draft plan to meet these needs. On Tuesday, the Water Agency board voted to consider releasing the plan to the public in October, after the county general plan is complete and the biological opinion has been released.”


Kerns and Reilly said:

“If communities grow as planned, more water will be needed.”

And the Supes voted to “consider” telling us how they plan to provide that water–but not until October, “after the county general plan is complete”. They make it sound easy; and they don’t mention the huge expense of building a new Dry Creek aqueduct. But more important, I don’t see how the Supes can adopt a Sonoma County General Plan consistent with state law, unless it either:

1) demonstrates that the County can and will provide Lake Sonoma water, so its communities can grow as they plan;
2) makes clear that the County can’t guarantee to accomodate the water requirements of that growth.
And if the County tells the nine cities it can’t provide the water for their growth, they’ll have three choices:

1) find more water somewhere else, maybe ground water;
2) adopt extreme conservation measures;
3) reduce the planned growth in their own general plans.