Three scoping meetings have been scheduled to obtain public comment on the proposed project and subjects that should be evaluated in the draft EIR on Russian River Fish Flows:
· Thursday, November 4th, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Monte Rio Community Center, 20488 Highway 116, Monte Rio
· Monday, November 8th, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Windsor Town Hall, 9291 Old Redwood Hwy, Windsor
· Wednesday, November 10th, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., The Alex Rorabaugh Center, 1640 South State Street, Ukiah
The 45-day NOP public review period will close at 5:00 p.m. on November 15, 2010.
Please contact me or Erica Phelps (547-1934) if you have any questions or would like additional information.
The Sonoma County Water Agency will release the Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project (Fish Flow Project) on Wednesday, September 29, 2010. As required by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Russian River Biological Opinion, in September 2009 the Water Agency filed a petition to permanently change the Decision 1610 minimum instream flow requirements, in order to improve habitat for endangered Central California Coast coho salmon and threatened Central California Coast steelhead. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will act on this petition after the EIR is prepared.
The NOP describes the following proposed project that will be subject of the EIR:
· Minimum Instream Flows for Coho Salmon and Steelhead
To comply with the requirements of NMFS’ Russian River Biological Opinion, the Water Agency filed a petition asking the SWRCB to make the following changes in the instream flow requirements that are specified in Decision 1610 and the Water Agency’s water-right permits:
o In the upper river (above the Dry Creek confluence): Between June 1 and August 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 185 cfs is proposed to change to 125 cfs and between September 1 and October 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 150 cfs is proposed to change to 125 cfs
o In the lower river (downstream of the Dry Creek confluence): Between January 1 and December 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 125 cfs is proposed to change to 70 cfs
o In Dry Creek: Between May 1 and October 31 of each year the existing minimum instream flow requirement of 80 cfs is proposed to change to 40 cfs for Dry Creek from Warm Springs Dam to the Russian River
· Minimum Instream Flows for Chinook Salmon
Operating water supply releases from Lake Mendocino to preserve or increase the pool of cold water available in Lake Mendocino to support the fall Chinook salmon migration run may aid in their conservation and recovery. Although the proposed lower minimum instream flow requirements in NMFS’ Russian River Biological Opinion will help to achieve this goal, the Water Agency will file another petition with the SWRCB, requesting that the modifications to minimum instream flow requirements be extended beyond the months required by NMFS’ Russian River Biological Opinion for the upper Russian River. These additional months could include those earlier or later in the year, or could be extended to be in effect year-round.
· Hydrologic Index
The Water Agency will file another petition seeking to change the methodology used to establish the water-year type classifications that determine minimum instream flow requirements for the Russian River, to reflect actual conditions within the Russian River watershed rather than conditions in the Eel River watershed. The proposed hydrologic index will be developed based on measurements and dates of storage in, or inflows into, Lake Mendocino.
· Water-Right Permit Updates
The Water Agency will also file petitions as needed to update its water-right permits to reflect current conditions and to resolve the time extension petitions that are pending before the SWRCB. These actions are not required to implement the proposed new minimum instream flow requirements or to change the hydrologic index, but will ask the SWRCB to consolidate the process to modify and update the Water Agency’s water-right permits in one order.
Principal Environmental Specialist, Wildlife Biologist
Sonoma County Water Agency
404 Aviation Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403