Upcoming workshop to educate landowners on water management

Landowners in the Russian River watershed with questions about water rights, water conservation, imperiled fish species and related issues are encouraged to attend a multi-agency workshop Tuesday to learn about their obligations and opportunities in an era of extended drought.

The open house-style event in north Santa Rosa is aimed in large part ?at engaging landowners in partnership with public agencies to protect ?creek flows critical to preserving fish species like coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Topics will include water storage and conservation ideas, state and federal grant opportunities and water management projects that might help ensure adequate stream flow for fish, even in dry years.

Erin Ragazzi, environmental program manager with the State Water Resources Control Board, described it as a sort of “one-stop shopping to get water- and fish-related information.”

“Even though the rain is coming down, we are not clear of what may be a long-term drought situation,” said David Moore, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re certainly planning for trying to deal with the very worst potential impact on that score.”

The four-hour workshop reflects three broad objectives identified in the 2-year-old California Water Action Plan: creation of more reliable water supplies, restoration of fish habitat, and more resilient and sustainably managed water systems.

It comes as state water officials expand metering and reporting requirements for an estimated 2,250 property owners allowed to divert water from the Russian River, as well as thousands more throughout the state.

A separate, water-use informational order is in place for more than 10,000 other Sonoma County property owners on four river tributaries that provide critical fish habitat - Mark West, Dutch Bill, Green Valley and Mill creeks.

Mark West Creek also is one of five streams ?in California identified ?as a “priority stream system” because of the critical role of its upper reaches in the survival of coho salmon.

Kara Heckert, executive director of the Sonoma Resource Conservation District, said property owners in the Mark West Creek watershed have been extremely responsive to partnerships designed to preserve the habitat. But all four creeks represent “kind of the last stands” for coho, Heckert said.

“There’s a lot going on at once,” she said.

Tuesday’s event is ?hosted jointly by the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish ?and Wildlife with the participation of many other entities, including local resource conservation districts, the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, the Sonoma County Water Agency, Trout Unlimited and others.

The workshop runs from 3 to 7 p.m., and begins with introductory presentations but will allow for face-to-face consultations with state and local representatives.

It is being held at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control board hearing room, 5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made to (916) 319-0631.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette