CCWI on Water Testing in Russian River System

Hello everyone!

We’d like to start out by saying we are really excited to share the results of the first study for our new Lower Russian River watershed monitoring and outreach program! As we all know our County’s drinking water comes from this watershed basin, and in fact many Marin residents get their water from here too, totaling roughly 600,000 people!

There are endangered salmon in the river and surrounding streams as well. Coho, Chinook, and steelhead are all federally listed and all have critical spawning habitat within this watershed.

This is a pretty important place, and with threats like the new vineyard and orchard ordinance that our County’s Supervisors just passed, we have to keep a close eye on it. The vineyard ordinance will remove the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) from the planning and reviewing process for many vineyard and orchard developments. We, as the public, will have no say and will not be able to be a part of this process, and regulations on land use and management will be minimal. This is scary because we were threatened with the Cornell Winery proposal in the upper Mark West Creek area. This proposal received overwhelming public comment and was halted till January 09, an example of the power of CEQA.

There are things we can do about this! Writing letters to the local newspapers is always a good way to express your distaste with local decisions, especially when the decision is to omit us from decisions!

A Supervisor watch is being coordinated and if interested, CCWI can gladly put you in contact with the right person. The last Board of Supervisors election left many of us fearful of what is to come and this watch would involve attending Planning Commission meetings and make sure these Supes aren’t planning to pull another stunt like the grading ordinance.

Another thing you can do is test the water. Make sure these vineyards and orchards aren’t already polluting them with sediment and fertilizers!

That’s what we’re doing and here are the sites and results of our 12/2/08 monitoring; Our sites; Our results;

Site ID Time Air Temp PH Water Temp Dissolved Oxygen Turbidity (NTU’s) Conductivity Microsiemens/cm

MWC012 12:58p 11 C 7.9 10.2 C 8.1 mg/l 6.28 490

MWC005 1:40p 11 C 7.7 9.9 C 7.93 mg/l * 6.21 490

RUS020 12:20p 12 C 8.2 12.1 C 10.97 mg/l * 1.33 280

* A stream with dissolved oxygen level of 7.93 mg/l can mean moderate to severe production impairment for salmon species.

* A dissolved oxygen reading of 10.97 mg/l suggests a healthy environment for salmon, with plenty of available oxygen for all life stages of these fish.

* Site ID Nitrate (NO3) Phosphate (PO4)

MWC012 .088 mg/l .273 mg/l *

MWC005 .093 mg/l .283 mg/l *

RUS020 .016 mg/l .019 mg/l

* These are concerning levels of phosphates. This can cause excessive growth of aquatic vegetation and can decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen in the stream. *

* The USEPA recommendation for streams is under .1 mg/l total phosphate. *

New sites: The Mark West Creek and Russian River confluence (Near MWC005) and the Russian River, downriver from the MWC and RR confluence (RUS020.) For any questions regarding the parameters we test contact our office or go to

The data in red will be included in a pollution alert we release soon.

If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of our citizen monitoring program and our effort to protect our waterways from polluters please contact us (707) 824.4370! More information on this program can be found at Best, Terrance Fleming Community Clean Water Institute Program Coordinator 707/824.4370 phone 707/824.4372 fax