Mouth of Russian River open after Sonoma County digs beach channel to prevent flooding

The sand-blocked mouth of the Russian River has opened after Sonoma County Tuesday had a heavy equipment operator dig a beach channel to release water from the river estuary to the ocean.

Sonoma Water, the county water agency, dug the trench to prevent the river from spilling into the town of Jenner amid extremely high tides and heavy surf, said water agency spokesman Barry Dugan.

The job finished around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, and water levels in the lagoon began to decline by that night, Dugan said. At its peak, the river’s surface swelled to over 9 feet at the nearby Highway 1 bridge.

The effort came as the National Weather Service warned of coastal flooding caused by high king tides and large breaking waves. A high surf advisory was in effect for the North Bay until 3 p.m. Wednesday.

This is the fifth time in last two months that the mouth of the river has closed.

You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian

Ethan Varian

Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat 

I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.

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