Russian River Watershed map - cloverdale

WATERSHED PROJECTS — Detail from larger map (see sidebar) depicting the locations of suggested projects for the Russian River watershed and highlights the burned areas following the October 2017 firestorm.

Meeting at CPAC to discuss projects up for grant funding in Russian River watershed, new ideas welcomed

The Russian River Watershed Association (RRWA) has announced that the grant-funded Storm Water Resource Plan (SWRP) for the Russian River watershed is now available for public comment.

Citizens wishing to comment can attend a public meeting on Tuesday, April 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center or do so on the RRWA’s website.

“The reason we are holding the meeting is for everyone to tell us if you think the projects that have been offered up to improve water quality in the Russian River are a good idea, or are there other projects that we should consider. Proposition 1, otherwise known as the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, was approved by the voters and they get a big say about how that money is spent,” said Eric Janzen, senior engineering technician for the City of Cloverdale.

“When the Russian River looks like chocolate milk, it is not good for our salmon and steelhead, and these are our two most sensitive fisheries. We want to infiltrate water on land as much as possible because this recharges our groundwater and that benefits both agriculture and fisheries,” said Jensen.

“We really do want people to have a chance to talk about how to spend this money for them. The call for projects has been held open to give people as an opportunity to jump in and tell us about ideas they have to improve water quality. Good ideas are always welcome.”

At the meeting, RRWA will discuss the background and development of the resource plan and the input that has led to the current draft. Comments will also be accepted and discussed at the public meeting. The comment period will close on April 23. The final draft is expected sometime in May.

The Russian River watershed is a rich and diverse region of nearly 1,500 square miles of forests, agricultural lands and urban lands in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, according to the RRWA’s website. The watershed is home to approximately 360,000 people, 238 streams and creeks and 63 species of fish – three of which are listed as threatened or endangered: Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and Steelhead trout.

Cloverdale is among the coalition of 11 cities, counties and special districts in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration and watershed enhancement. The association works to protect watershed resources, restore fisheries and improve water quality at reduced cost to the member agencies and communities they serve.

According to the RRWA website, on June 30, 2016, RRWA was awarded a $500,000 storm water planning grant from the State Water Resources Control Board. RRWA staff, member agencies and collaborators have been working together to develop the Storm Water Resource Plan for the Russian River watershed.

The RRWA states 94 concepts for projects have been submitted to date for consideration by the SWRP project team. These projects were screened based on criteria defined by a technical advisory committee. The final deadline to submit a concept for a project is April 23.

Among the entities in Sonoma County submitting projects are the City of Cloverdale, the City of Healdsburg, the Town of Windsor, the City of Santa Rosa, the City of Rohnert Park, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Laguna Foundation, Permit Sonoma, Daily Acts, the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the County of Sonoma and Sonoma State University.

The project submitted by the City of Cloverdale is for the downtown flood reduction project that has been discussed in previous city council meetings.

It was described in one council agenda as “an un-named creek that flows through downtown Cloverdale in a series of storm drains and open channel segments and is decades old. The creek flows in culverts under several existing buildings. Localized conduit failure and flooding from the creek has occurred regularly. No engineering or construction records exist for this culvert.

“Installation is believed to have occurred in the 1930s and was installed as needed to allow for downtown development. Observed buried sections of the conduit have shown a dilapidated concrete box culvert. Inspections during storm events during the 2016-17 winter season have shown the hydraulic capability to be at or near capacity.”

Projects may be included in the SWRP if they provide two or more main benefits and at least one additional benefit. Main benefits, as described by the RRWA, include increased filtration and/or treatment of runoff, water supply reliability, decreased flood risk by reducing runoff rate and/or volume, environment habitat protection and improvement including wetland enhancement and/or creation, riparian enhancement and/or instream flow improvement, creation of employment opportunities and public education.

Additional benefits include nonpoint source pollution control, re-established natural water drainage and treatment, water conservation, reduced sanitary sewer overflows, reduced energy use, greenhouse gas emission or provides a carbon sink, reestablishment of the natural hydrograph, and enhance and/or create recreational and public use areas.

Copies of the draft plan, a comment portal, maps and a timeline are available at rrwatershed.org/project/stormwater-resource-plan/.

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