Due to a dry February and warm temperatures, the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) today began the process of inflating its rubber dam located in the Russian River near Forestville. The rubber dam is a critical component of the Russian River water supply system that provides naturally filtered drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in portions of Sonoma and Marin counties.
The rubber dam is typically inflated in spring or early summer when demand for potable water increases. A lack of measurable rainfall in February and warm temperatures have increased water demands earlier than usual, and river flows remain relatively low.
When fully inflated, the rubber dam creates a small pool of water from which Sonoma Water draws water for use in four off-stream infiltration ponds. The infiltration ponds help recharge groundwater, which is naturally filtered through sand and gravel and delivered to Sonoma Water’s customers.
The rubber dam is located just downstream of the Wohler Bridge on the Russian River. When the rubber dam is raised, permanent fish ladders provide fish passage and allow Sonoma Water to count the migration of adult salmon and steelhead with its underwater video system located in the fish ladders.
Boaters must portage around the rubber dam, located downstream of Wohler Bridge. Public notices will be posted around the rubber dam warning the public not to recreate on or near the dam. California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations prohibit fishing within 250 feet of the upstream and downstream sides of the rubber dam.
With dry conditions and water demands increasing, Sonoma Water encourages residents to use water efficiently. Additional water conservation tips are available at the Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership website, savingwaterpartnership.org.
— Sonoma Water