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Judie Messier Interviews Sonoma County
Round TWO: January 2015

Once again, I feel honored to have been able to bear witness to the deep concern and caring that people have for their Sonoma County..!!  

Here are LINKS to previous Sonoma County interview aticles:

Judie Messier Interviews Sonoma County - Round ONE

Into the Future - Judie Messier Interviews Sonoma County


WHO GOT INTERVIEWED IN ROUND TWO JANUARY 19-23, 2015.

Interviews are posted below in the following order:

Alan Kostelnik, Gardens of the Wine Country (36)

Amanda Lomeli, substitute teacher in Roseland (34)

Ariana Strozzi Mazzuchi, Sky Horse Ranch, Valley Ford Wool Mill (24)

Ben Sucher & Melissa Casanova, SucherNova Farm (32)

David Keller, Bay Area Director, Friends of the Eel River (26) 

Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh, Clean Water Sonoma Marin (40)

Debora Fudge, Councilmember, Windsor, CA (09) 

Don McEnhill, Russian Riverkeeper (35)

Erik Ohlsen, Permaculture Artisans (39)

Juan Hernandez, Executive Director, La Luz Center (37)

Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser, Singing Frogs Farm (30)

Rick Williams, Proprietor, Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery; Board President, Bodega Water Company (27) 

Sarah Quider, winemaker, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery (31)

Susan Gorin, First District Supervisor, County of Sonoma (38)

Tito Sasaki (25) 

Tom Roth, former Environmental Aide for State Senator Noreen Evans; former Policy Advisor for California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (33)

Tony Anello, Spud Point Crab Company, Bodega Bay (41)

Wendel Trappe & Jonathon Trappe, Canyon Rock Co., Inc. (29)

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE ROUND TWO INTERVIEWS

In this summary, I will provide some representative answers to each question – and will hopefully tease you to read each individual interview. 

 

The first question asked folks what was their relationship to Sonoma County.

Many saw their relationship to Sonoma County in terms of how long they have lived here – some having been born and raised here; others having moved here.  Many spoke of Sonoma County as a home that they loved.  And some saw their relationship to Sonoma County in terms of the work that they do in Sonoma County.

- I am a 4th generation SoCo resident.  My family has lived here since 1942.  I have lived here for 25 years and have no plans to move. (09)

- I’ve lived here for over 30 years.  So, I live and work mostly with people living or working in the county. (25)

- We are residents.  Before we lived here, we wanted to live here.  We love Sonoma County. (32)

- I grew up in Sonoma County.  I live and work here, raise my children, explore the area, enjoy the beauty of the landscape.  It’s heaven to me. (31)

- I am the Board President for the Bodega Water Company and am the proprietor of Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery. (27)

 

When asked how they felt about this interview, their answers spanned a full range of feelings.

Many were happy to be participating in something that they hoped would contribute positively towards resolving the water issue in Sonoma County.  Others expressed feelings ranging from “good” to “comfortable” to “nervous” to “curious” to “time consuming on a bad day.” (41)

- I’m honored to take part in this interview and commend the mission of building partnerships with land and people. (39)

- This interview is an interesting process & I am anxious to see the results & look for a positive outcome. (09)

- Hope some will benefit from it. (25)

 

When asked next how they saw the water situation in Sonoma County right now, their answers revealed a wealth of mindful and detailed consideration of the water situation.

While some felt that the situation in Sonoma County was not as bad as it is in other parts of the state, all expressed the opinion, in one way or another, that the water system in Sonoma County is in dire straits and that everyone in Sonoma County has to change how they think and act with respect to water.

- In Sonoma County, we are lucky as of right now.  But if we don’t get our act together, we could ruin our situation. (32)

- While Sonoma County has made significant strides in bringing watershed management into 21st century, science-based actions, we are still in jeopardy for the long term (i.e., next 100-150 years).  Having reliable clean and abundant water for residents, agriculture, business and our watersheds and public trust resources is not assured without significant changes in our assumptions and practices.  Assuming that growth patterns in land use – residential and agricultural – can remain in the current trajectory will not work. (26)

- I am worried about our vulnerability to the changing climate – drought and floods will be more extreme, and we are very vulnerable to the more extreme weather events that will harm wildlife and our economy. (35)

- Complex, changing, important.  Everyone needs to work together/collaborate for future. (38)

- I believe the water situation is worse than the public is made to feel.  But, I will say that the SCWA is doing an extraordinarily better job than 8 years ago. (40)

 

When asked how they felt about the current water situation in Sonoma County, their answers revealed a range of feelings.

Some expressed concern; some were excited by the opportunity that the water situation presented; and some were confident not only that there are solutions, but also that Sonoma County residents can work together for the future.

- I am both troubled by the prospect, as well as excited by the prospects of changing them to assure a better future. (26)

- Passionate. (38)

- We are fortunate there are so many skilled designers and practitioners in Sonoma County who know how to catch, store, and distribute rain water.  The solutions exist. (39)

- If any place knows how to conserve and respond positively, SoCo residents do. (36)

 

When asked what would be the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County, their answers revealed a focused set of potential worst possible outcomes.

Many said that the worst possible outcome would be the ruination of both the natural environment and the human environment of Sonoma County.  And many said that if people from throughout Sonoma County did not come together and figure out their shared vision, then government agencies would come in and impose both water restrictions and ill-conceived restorative practices on Sonoma County. 

- The worst possible outcome is that our wells run dry and we lose our agricultural heritage & economy & that residents’ lives are affected. (09)

- The worst outcome would be for residents of Sonoma County to ruin our natural resources. (34)

- Water scarcity, unequal availability, threatened livelihood, hard feelings, moratoriums, tension. (38)

- If we wait too long, the salmon runs, wildlife habitats and watershed will dry up AND we will be put on heavy water restrictions. (32)

- Without a commitment to a long-term perspective and action, Sonoma County (and the North Bay and North Coast) could well see a period of disappearing agriculture, population, and businesses. (26)

- I also fear that we may reach a carrying capacity where there is not enough water for our communities and we end up destroying our natural resources in our desperation to meet the needs of our region. (39)

- One outcome of not confronting the water situation is that government agencies will come in and determine water rights per property and if we as individuals and communities have not shared ideas and concerns prior to this, we may experience a rude awakening, a sense of lack of control and freedom, and resentment. (24)

- The worst possible outcome is that the government steps in and inappropriately “reacts” thus imposing harsh restrictions and poorly planned restorative practices. (27)

 

When asked how they felt about the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County,  their answers expressed a full range of emotions.

Some were “worried,” “concerned,” “sad & frustrated.”  “It’s too depressing, especially since it is avoidable.” (26)  Some felt optimistic because “people in the community are already taking measures” (31) to confront the water situation.  Others felt confident that because the “residents of Sonoma County care a great deal about this issue,...we will take action to improve the water situation.” (34)

 

When asked what would be the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, their answers presented an equally focused set of potential best possible outcomes.

While some detailed specific improvements that they felt needed to be made, most wanted the people of Sonoma County to work together to build a joint vision, and in so doing, to serve as a model to the world.

- If it is possible to learn from different sectors of water users – what their fears and concerns are – what are minimum requirements versus indulgent use, then local communities and then our county as a whole can begin to collectively consider how to address the hidden reality that we “as a whole community (county)” are not sustainable in terms of our water use.  By addressing the “invisible elephant in the room” now, perhaps we can collectively create solutions and empower ourselves individually and collectively to become a sustainable water-using community and maybe even set an example of community leadership on this topic for other counties. (24)

- These types of interviews and approach. (37)

- Everyone shares in the solution.  Ownership.  Pride.  Greater understanding.  Behavioral change. (38)

- The sooner we can build broad coalitions between all the various stakeholders in our community, the better. (39)

- The best possible outcome is that we prove to ourselves that we can truly be a sustainable county & also that we become an even stronger role model for the world.  We can do this. (09)

- Several important outcomes:  Workable groundwater management that protects our aquifers.  Protection of our rivers and streams that enhances biodiversity and safeguards against erosion and flooding.  Establishment of a water conservation ethic. (33)

- The best possible outcome would be a long term plan to restore the inland waterways with native forestation and habitat.  This would include appropriate and historically consistent plants.  In addition, the implementation of “catchments” in the hills above would assist in groundwater recharge.  All this would take the cooperation of property owners, stakeholders, and local and state government. (27)

 

When asked what were all the reasons people would give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome, their answers ranged from characteristics of the situation to characteristics of the people.

- People resist what seems hard to achieve – it’s much easier to stay in a state of denial.  People will point to the past to say the rains will return as they have before. (09)

- Entrenched interests will tend to protect what they have & perceived needs.  Doing this will cost jobs, money, farms.  The enviros are allied with big government trying to control our lives.  Reduced supplies of water will cost too much. (26)

- People are stuck on their own agenda and not willing to listen. (29)

- Too complex.  Easier to litigate.  Sense of entitlement.  Sense of losing livelihood.  Too expensive to change ways of doing things. (38)

 

When asked about the new beliefs and behaviors folks would need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen, their answers ranged from beliefs and behavior about the environment to beliefs and behaviors about people.

- Understanding the complexity of the regulatory overlay, water supply, interface between surface water and groundwater, finite water supply, effects of climate change. (38)

- There are ecological solutions that are economically beneficial. (30)

- Paramount to a healthy future for our children and grandchildren is to honestly look at old beliefs about water use, water rights, and to avoid fear and judgement and the resulting “ostrich with its head in the sand” phenomenon.  New behaviors include expressions like “Tell me more about your needs and your fears,” “What are all the new ways I can think about my water use? – for example, do I really need a grass lawn or would a veggie garden be a better alternative.”  “Maybe I’ll sign up for that lecture on our aquifers.”  New beliefs include “Yes, we can find better ways to live, grow food and animals and enjoy the outdoors.”  “Think outside the box” is a required belief.  Another very important behavior that would be required is for the PRMD to become open and receptive to alternative water systems like grey water systems and rain water catchment systems.  Right now they make it very hard for homeowners and business owners to creatively become more water-conserving. (24)

 

When asked about strategies and actions that would reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen, their answers ranged from strategies and actions about the environment to strategies and actions about people.

- Unnecessary outdoor irrigation will need to cease; new low water landscaping planted in place of lawns; and the ag community will need to work together & share best management practices.  As well, new technologies will need to be developed & implemented, such as the water fence & sub-surface irrigation. (09)

- Create more communication, education & networking to share best practices & bridge divides. (30)

- New grants for both businesses and homeowners to implement water conservation strategies.  New and easier to get and cheaper county permits to encourage implementation of water conservation.  Workshops, educational seminars, “Grange” attitudes – by this I mean bringing the public together with the farmers and ranchers to create new paradigms of living a “waterful life.” (24)

- Support and work with your local watershed group.  Continue to support positive efforts towards sustainability by agriculture and business.  Participate in developing new groundwater and stream protection policies.  Implement conservation strategies at home & business, including rainwater harvesting, water-smart gardens and landscape. (33)

- Better education across the board about the solutions that exist.  Building of broad coalitions between big ag, developers, electeds, planners, environmentalists, and ecological designers.  If a group like this can come up with long-term strategies, it may just have the support needed to implement.  We also need immediate action from our planning department to make water catchment solutions easier to permit and build.  Many solutions that exist, like small ponds, tank installation, and water harvesting terraforming, are cost-prohibitive to most people because the engineering and permitting costs are so high.  This especially relates to septic systems and the need to have fewer obstacles to building solutions like greywater, compost toilets, and constructed wetlands. (39)

- Coming together.  Willingness to listen/learn.  Willingness to adapt to new ways of thinking about and using water. (38)

- Start with kids (elementary).  Focus on families. (37)

 

When asked, if folks worked together now to confront the water situation, what would be their vision of Sonoma County in 20 years, their answers revealed a shared vision of social, environmental and economic vitality.

- We can be sustainable in that we don’t rely on out-of-county water resources.  It will also make us a more cohesive perhaps caring community, as we tackle this very difficult task together.  In the long run, we could be an even more special county than we are now & there could be a positive ripple effect in other areas as well. (09)

- If we all come together and implement a plan within the next five years, we should be able to turn this potential crisis around and have a vibrant ecosystem that would be healthy and sustainable. (27)

- A verdant, healthy & thriving environment & economy. (30)

- Our vision is a county and watershed with a healthy agricultural sector & economy with rebounding fish populations.  Our community would be able to endure future prolonged droughts with much less impact to our economy & wildlife.  Our community sees our water as a community bank account that can’t afford only withdrawals, but has to have new water use patterns adding deposits equal to all withdrawals. (35)

- In 20 years, if we implement the solutions we already know about, I believe we can have water security, economic vitality, and social well-being.  I’m confident we could do this if enough decision makers and big business people signed on.  Ecological infrastructure is real and easily available for our region’s needs.  We just need to have the courage to make it happen. (39)

 

When asked how they felt about this vision, their answers revealed that they felt hopeful, confident, optimistic about their vision..!

- Hopeful. (31)

- I feel optimistic.  Sonoma County residents are great.  I am always impressed by our teamwork and care for our county.  We can do it..!! (32)

- I feel very confident about the possibility of Sonoma County continuing to be an agriculturally driven area, with enough water for all. (34)

 

When asked what would be the first step that would need to be taken to realize that vision, their answers offered a wide range of ideas.

Some felt that Sonoma County was already taking first steps towards realizing the vision.  Many stressed the need for education of everyone about all aspects of the water situation, and the need for opportunities for people to come together to craft a joint vision.  Others mentioned specific water practices that could be implemented.

- The first steps are already being taken & some cities & the SCWA (Sonoma County Water Agency) are working more closely together. (09)

- I feel like we are already starting the process, communicating, conserving, recycling, monitoring, etc., but there always seem to be other ways to improve. (31)

- We have already started.  Education is the first step and taking responsibility. (32)

- Learning about our finite water supply and the connection between groundwater and surface water.  Educate, educate, educate – especially our children. (38)

- The creation of a committee of stakeholders to envision a water abundant, ecologically based future is a good first step. (39)

- Community opportunities – finding either individuals or associations or granges who are willing to create social gatherings to openly discuss creative solutions.  This is different than meetings to talk about governance of water.  Perhaps some associations/nonprofit community organizations or granges will take a leadership role in creating grants and financial incentives for water conservation strategies. (24)

- Bring together all stakeholders for a serious and in-depth long-term dialogue about the state of water in our county.  A great example is the Sonoma County Food System Alliance (SCFSA) in regards to issues around food production and security. (30)

- Planning department rollbacks of some of the obstacles to water catchment and conservation would also have an immediate impact. (39)

- We can also immediately start shifting the infrastructure of our homes, farms, and cities to integrate water catchment, grey water, and conservation strategies. (39)

- Water efficiency practices with greater market penetration through programs like PAYS (pay-as-you-save), partially now implemented in Windsor.  Agricultural efficiency in vineyards and in marijuana cultivation can be stepped up significantly. (26)

 

When asked what was something they could do right now to make that vision happen, they also had a lot of ideas.

- What I will do is look for attending social gatherings and other meetings to learn more about Sonoma County’s water issue on a larger scale. (24)

- We have built multiple ponds and have a water reclaim system that allows us to recycle 95% of our water. (29)

- We are participating in community discussions around soil, water & agriculture and want to increase the number of stakeholders in the discussion. (30)

- I am doing that right now in this interview. (40)

 

And finally, folks were asked how they felt about the interview now?

Many felt that they had participated in something that could make a difference. 

- These questions help me to formulate my thoughts. (09)

- I feel inspired with a “Yes we can change in a collectively positive way.” (24)

- Encouraged that this information may get published and my voice might be heard. (27)

- We think it is a great thing that you are doing.  We hope it educates people on the issues that are facing Sonoma County now.  It is going to take things like this to make people work together. (29)

- These are challenging questions for all of us and hopefully one more positive way to bring us together. (30)

- I am hopeful we can make a difference for the future. (31)

- Good.  I hope it gets Sonoma County talking & moving into action to preserve our watershed. (32)

- Good questions that make you think about the absolute necessity to deal with water issues. (33)

- I feel very glad that I was able to participate in this interview. (34)

- Too little time to address such important & complex issues, but we have to start somewhere, so really appreciate the opportunity. (35)

- The questions in this interview are vitally important for all of us to ask ourselves.  I’m grateful to have a chance to offer a permaculture point of view to this discussion.  I hope that this interview can help people reframe the issues and the solutions. (39)

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NOTE: I have just started postting the full interviews - please check backas I add more with their photos! ~ Vesta vesta@sonic.net

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ROUND TWO paticipants:

Debora Fudge, Councilmember, Windsor, CA (9)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I am a 4th generation SoCo resident.  My family has lived here since 1942.  I have lived here for 25 years and have no plans to move.

How do you feel about this interview?

This interview is an interesting process & I am anxious to see the results & look for a positive outcome.

2.  As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now? How do you feel about it?

The water situation is scary to me because we don’t know when the drought will end & when our groundwater aquifers will be restored.  I worry about the effects of climate change into the future & I worry about long term effects and about our ability to adapt.

3.  What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

The worst possible outcome is that our wells run dry and we lose our agricultural heritage & economy & that residents’ lives are affected.  I’m not sure that large water users understand fully this threat yet.

4.  What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

The best possible outcome is that we prove to ourselves that we can truly be a sustainable county & also that we become an even stronger role model for the world.  We can do this.

5.  What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People resist what seems hard to achieve – it’s much easier to stay in a state of denial.  People will point to the past to say the rains will return as they have before.  But things are different now.

6.  What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People will need to learn to think longer term & beyond their own lifespans and act accordingly.

7.  What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Unnecessary outdoor irrigation will need to cease; new low water landscaping planted in place of lawns; and the ag community will need to work together & share best management practices.  As well, new technologies will need to be developed & implemented, such as the water fence & sub-surface irrigation.

8.  If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

We can be sustainable in that we don’t rely on out-of-county water resources.  It will also make us a more cohesive perhaps caring community, as we tackle this very difficult task together.  In the long run, we could be an even more special county than we are now & there could be a positive ripple effect in other areas as well.

9.  What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The first steps are already being taken & some cities & the SCWA (Sonoma County Water Agency) are working more closely together.  The trick is to get everyone on the same page & moving forward together.  Detractors only slow down the process & we need to be working together immediately.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Windsor can more effectively reach out to other cities to get them to implement the PAYS (Pay As You Save) program, for example.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

These questions help me to formulate my thoughts.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.”  

How fortunate we are to have farm stands in our community separators – and this historic barn that was saved and relocated to this site with the help of many local residents.

Deb Fudge - Tierra Vegetables, Windsor, CA

 

Ariana Strozzi Mazzuchi, Sky Horse Ranch, Valley Ford Wool Mill (24)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I have lived in Sonoma County for 30 years.

How do you feel about this interview?

I feel good.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

The water situation in Sonoma County is like an invisible issue that no one wants to look at.  Everyone hopes it will go away with enough rain.

How do you feel about it?

Up to this point, I haven’t given it much thought in terms of what I can do about it on a larger community level because I have always been a very good water conservator, having grown up in California droughts and living on land that has very little water in the wells.

This interview has opened the opportunity to consider a conversation at a community level.  On a personal level, I have been concerned about government coming in and controlling my water rights even though I don’t use lots of water.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

One outcome of not confronting the water situation is that government agencies will come in and determine water rights per property and if we as individuals and communities have not shared ideas and concerns prior to this, we may experience a rude awakening, a sense of lack of control and freedom, and resentment.  Maybe even blaming each other and experiencing a separation or a feeling of having to pick sides “for or against each other.”  This would be very unfortunate and dis-empowering for us as individuals and for our rural communities.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

There are so many different needs for water from home use (do homeowners still water their lawns) to agricultural to hobby (golf courses).  If it is possible to learn from different sectors of water users – what their fears and concerns are – what are minimum requirements versus indulgent use, then local communities and then our county as a whole can begin to collectively consider how to address the hidden reality that we “as a whole community (county)” are not sustainable in terms of our water use.  By addressing the “invisible elephant in the room” now, perhaps we can collectively create solutions and empower ourselves individually and collectively to become a sustainable water-using community and maybe even set an example of community leadership on this topic for other counties.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

I imagine common responses would be “I don’t have time to participate,” “People won’t change, nor will they be open to listening to the concerns of others,” “no one’s going to step up to take a leadership role on this topic,” “people will be afraid to tell the truth for fear of being made ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ by other sectors.”

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Paramount to a healthy future for our children and grandchildren is to honestly look at old beliefs about water use, water rights, and to avoid fear and judgement and the resulting “ostrich with its head in the sand” phenomenon.  New behaviors include expressions like “Tell me more about your needs and your fears,” “What are all the new ways I can think about my water use? – for example, do I really need a grass lawn or would a veggie garden be a better alternative.”  “Maybe I’ll sign up for that lecture on our aquifers.”  New beliefs include “Yes, we can find better ways to live, grow food and animals and enjoy the outdoors.”  “Think outside the box” is a required belief.  Another very important behavior that would be required is for the PRMD to become open and receptive to alternative water systems like grey water systems and rain water catchment systems.  Right now they make it very hard for homeowners and business owners to creatively become more water-conserving.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

New grants for both businesses and homeowners to implement water conservation strategies.  New and easier to get and cheaper county permits to encourage implementation of water conservation.  Workshops, educational seminars, “Grange” attitudes – by this I mean bringing the public together with the farmers and ranchers to create new paradigms of living a “waterful life.”

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

In 20 years I see beautiful vegetable and drought tolerant gardens instead of green lawns.  I see vineyards that use substantially less water because they’re growing quality grapes as opposed to quantity.  I see mass integration of grey water systems and rain water catchment systems in homes and businesses for water landscaping, and see people valuing water not as a right but a privilege – a precious commodity that needs to be respected and not over-utilized.  I see city people and country people supporting each other to create balance for the whole.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Community opportunities – finding either individuals or associations or granges who are willing to create social gatherings to openly discuss creative solutions.  This is different than meetings to talk about governance of water.  Perhaps some associations/nonprofit community organizations or granges will take a leadership role in creating grants and financial incentives for water conservation strategies.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

What I will do is look for attending social gatherings and other meetings to learn more about Sonoma County’s water issue on a larger scale.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

I feel inspired with a “Yes we can change in a collectively positive way.”

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

The thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County is my children and grandchildren’s ability to live a healthy and safe life for generations to come in a place they call home.

Ariana Strozzi Mazzuchi's Family

 

Tito Sasaki (25)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I’ve lived here for over 30 years.  So, I live and work mostly with people living or working in the county.

How do you feel about this interview?

Hope some will benefit from it.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Not as bad as in some other parts of the state.

How do you feel about it?

We should deal with the problem rationally.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

We are not “not confronting”(or, doing nothing about) it.  Everyone is actively or passively (like following conservation guidelines) trying to resolve the water shortage.  So, the question won’t apply to our situation.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

We will survive again, and put the matter behind us.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

I haven’t heard anyone say it.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

1. There’s no free lunch, no free water.  2. Consider the hierarchy of objectives, instead of being caught in the narrow scope of dispute; look at the higher levels of objectives.  An example is the groundwater sustainability.  A higher objective is to secure a reliable and economical supply of water.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

The recent passage of the Prop 1, Water Bond, is a good sign.  How we respond to the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act may show if we wisely respond to the challenge.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

In 20 years, people will be talking about new problems, such as the decline in population and contraction of economy.  It seems our society always needs a problem.  The greatest problem may be not to have any real problem.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

We will have to take care of the immediate problems first.  They include compliance with new laws and regulations (groundwater sustainability act, Russian River frost protection regulation, Russian River water rights curtailment, etc.) as well as improving water storage and conveyance capacities.  Most of our water shortage problems are man-made: inaction in investing in necessary infrastructure and conflicting priorities and powers exercised by people assuming different “roles.”  The latter is evident in various Russian River problems.  For example, Lake Mendocino water may be released prematurely by the Army Corps of Engineers who are charged with the responsibility of flood protection, when every drop of water should be saved for an anticipated drought.  Similarly, National Marine Fishery Service is charged with protecting salmon in Dry Creek regardless how their actions hamper conveyance of Lake Sonoma water for human needs.

Getting back to the first point, we have sufficient precipitation in Sonoma Valley if we can capture and utilize a part of it.  1¼” of rainfall in Sonoma Valley will equal the total amount of groundwater pumped in the Valley in a year.  2” of rain would equal the yearly water consumption in the Valley.  In normal years, we have 30” to 35” of rain.  A major portion of it goes out to the Bay.  If we capture a part of this runoff, store it, treat it, and distribute it, we could help ameliorate the water situation significantly.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

The same.  Hope some will benefit from it.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

This is a picture of my ranch after a storm.  There is plenty of water here.  The question is how to capture, store, process, and distribute it..!

Tito Sasaki's ranch after a storm -25

 

David Keller, Bay Area Director, Friends of the Eel River (26)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Bay Area Director, Friends of the Eel River.  Board Chairman, Sonoma County Conservation Action.  Founder, Director, Petaluma River Council.  Resident of Sonoma County since 1987 with my family and friends.

How do you feel about this interview?

So far, interview is good.  We’ll see about the cards.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

While Sonoma County has made significant strides in bringing watershed management into 21st century, science-based actions, we are still in jeopardy for the long term (i.e., next 100-150 years).  Having reliable clean and abundant water for residents, agriculture, business and our watersheds and public trust resources is not assured without significant changes in our assumptions and practices.  Assuming that growth patterns in land use – residential and agricultural – can remain in the current trajectory will not work.

How do you feel about it?

I am both troubled by the prospect, as well as excited by the prospects of changing them to assure a better future.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

It is indeed possible for us to significantly damage our surface and groundwater and the health of our watersheds for both the Russian and Eel Rivers.  Throughout history, abuse of watersheds and groundwater has doomed civilizations, from the Anasazi to the Aral Sea, from the lower Colorado River to the southern Ogallala Aquifer.  Without a commitment to a long-term perspective and action, Sonoma County (and the North Bay and North Coast) could well see a period of disappearing agriculture, population, and businesses.

How do you feel about it?

Let’s not do that.  It’s too depressing, especially since it is avoidable.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Working together, across 4 North Coast counties (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt), we can find common interests of our many stakeholders including our Public Trust resources (fish, wildlife, soil, recreation) to craft a better solution, relationships, and long-term protection & restoration of our valuable water & lives.  That would result in far less conflict as well.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

  • Entrenched interests will tend to protect what they have & perceived needs. 
  • Doing this will cost jobs, money, farms. 
  • The enviros are allied with big government trying to control our lives. 
  • Reduced supplies of water will cost too much. 
  • Grapes are a multibillion dollar wealth for the region – don’t kill it. 
  • This is part of the UN “Agenda 21.”
  • The state/government is telling us to do things that are either stupid or designed by people who don’t know what they are doing, or we can do what is necessary on our own, voluntarily.
  • Water is cheap – all these changes will make it more expensive and hurt agriculture and the poor.
  • Technology will fix this – we don’t have to change what we’re doing now.
  • Asking electeds to think beyond their term in office is too much.
  • (unstated) Campaign contributions for electeds will be threatened if I take that route that the donors don’t like.
  • (unstated) If we just drag our feet long enough, the fish will be gone & we won’t have to save water for them.
  • Why are we wasting so much water by letting it run to the sea?
  • If the other stakeholders don’t like what we’re doing, they can sue us.
  • (unstated) I’m going to make a lot of money here, and then move some place else.
  • There are too many people here depending on what water we have.  They should move.
  • Science is conflicted on this issue.  There are not enough data to make us convinced we should change practices.
  • There’s plenty of water for all our needs in the Eel River.  We should just take over the hydroplant from PG&E and get more water for us.
  • I don’t trust “them” and can’t have a reasonable conversation about this with “them.”

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

  • Water is not in infinite supply; there are limits.
  • Water quality cannot be compromised further.
  • No water, no life.
  • The price of water needs to reflect its true costs, including externalized costs – energy, fuel, green house gas emissions, watershed restoration of prior damages & restoration to abundance of fish and wildlife.
  • We are all in this together.
  • Cut-and-run resource exploitation hurts us all, including our children.
  • We are not moving to Mars if we fail.
  • Public Trust resources have legal rights to water, forever (going back to Roman law).

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

  • Learning how to manage the Russian River for sustainable water supplies and restored fisheries with no water taken from the Eel River.
  • The Russian River is “overappropriated” – more water is taken out by legal and illegal/unpermitted withdrawals than naturally falls in the watershed – even before drought.
  • We have to plan and implement water policy based on continued drought, not years of abundance (which has been abnormally high during the past 150 years, compared to the prior 500+ years of precipitation history).

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

We can do this.  Australia is doing it now.

How do you feel about that vision?

Excited, challenged, guardedly optimistic that we can get there before it collapses.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

  • Public and governmental education about where water comes from and what shape these sources are in, given climate change & the current 4 year drought.
  • Water efficiency practices with greater market penetration through programs like PAYS (pay-as-you-save), partially now implemented in Windsor.
  • Agricultural efficiency in vineyards and in marijuana cultivation can be stepped up significantly.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Good.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Walking with Alison on the Kortum Trail, near Jenner.

David Keller - Goat Rock State beach - 26

 

Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser, Singing Frogs Farm (30)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

For 8 years, we’ve been growing vegetables and feeding Sonoma County residents.

How do you feel about this interview?

We like engaging, discussing things & sharing on topics around natural resources management.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Aquifers are certainly declining, but more importantly, the snow pack in the mountains is way below the minimum required to sustain our recent economy & way of life.  We’re glad that the drought has increased awareness of water issues.

How do you feel about it?

We would love to see a vast sea change in how people relate to water and its use.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Desertification, depopulation & reduced quality of life.

How do you feel about it?

Sad & frustrated.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Reduced water use per capita including improved agricultural practices such as increasing soil organic matter to increase water retention (for every 1% increase in soil organic matter, an acre of soil 1 foot deep can hold an additional16,500 gallons of water and improve the water use efficiency of plants in the soil), reduced water use for vineyard frost protection, increased utilization of drip irrigation instead of overhead sprinklers, and other agricultural practices that are not just minor increases in efficiencies but whole new ways of thinking outside the box.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Reduced profits.  Lack of access to appropriate technology.  And change is hard.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

There are ecological solutions that are economically beneficial.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Create more communication, education & networking to share best practices & bridge divides.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

A verdant, healthy & thriving environment & economy.

How do you feel about that vision?

Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser, Singing Frog Farms

It would be enriching & inspiring.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Bring together all stakeholders for a serious and in-depth long-term dialogue about the state of water in our county.  A great example is the Sonoma County Food System Alliance (SCFSA) in regards to issues around food production and security.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

We are participating in community discussions around soil, water & agriculture and want to increase the number of stakeholders in the discussion.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

These are challenging questions for all of us and hopefully one more positive way to bring us together.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Our children, our food, our future.

 

 

 

Sarah Quider, winemaker, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery (31)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I grew up in Sonoma County.  I live and work here, raise my children, explore the area, enjoy the beauty of the landscape.  It’s heaven to me.

How do you feel about this interview?

Opportunity to share my thoughts.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

The water situation is a very big concern for all of us living here.  We are a community with large agricultural businesses that depend on this resource, as well as the natural environment we need to protect.

How do you feel about it?

I feel very concerned about it, but I feel the more we communicate, the more people will try to conserve and recycle our water.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

I feel we would have a lot to lose.  Water is so vital, that we need to take every measure to monitor, regulate, and guide people to conserve.

How do you feel about it?

I am optimistic about how people in the community are already taking measures to do so.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

That we as a community regulate this resource and provide an environment where there is enough water for businesses, people, and nature.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People don’t always see eye to eye on the best ways to regulate our water situation.  There may be too many different opinions on the problem and ways to fix it.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People need to believe change is needed, and that every step they make can make a difference in the big picture.  If you do your part, and everyone else does too, then change will happen.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Continue to communicate to the community about the status of our water situation on a regular basis to update them on the success/failure of our efforts.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

I feel we would all learn how to conserve water more efficiently.  We would conserve, regulate, and maintain a resource that we have taken for granted for years.

How do you feel about that vision?

Hopeful.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

I feel like we are already starting the process, communicating, conserving, recycling, monitoring, etc., but there always seem to be other ways to improve.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Ferrari-Carano is working both in the vineyards and winery to conserve water.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

I am hopeful we can make a difference for the future.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

A view of the Russian River in mid-January..!

Sarah Quider - Russian River in mid-January -31

 

Rick Williams, Proprietor, Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery; Board President, Bodega Water Company (27)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I’ve lived here off and on since 1968.  I moved back here in 1993 after meeting my wife.  We live in Bodega now.  I attended Gravenstein, Analy, and Montgomery.  I am the Board President for the Bodega Water Company and am the proprietor of Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery.

How do you feel about this interview?

Comfortable so far.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Aside from the drought, Sonoma County has suffered severe loss of flow through all of its inland water ways.  Probably as a result of over-pumping of ground water and deforestation and inappropriate foliage along streams.

How do you feel about it?

I have been concerned since I moved back to the area.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

The worst possible outcome is that the government steps in and inappropriately “reacts” thus imposing harsh restrictions and poorly planned restorative practices.

How do you feel about it?

I am concerned.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

The best possible outcome would be a long-term plan to restore the inland waterways with native forestation and habitat.  This would include appropriate and historically consistent plants.  In addition, the implementation of “catchments” in the hills above would assist in groundwater recharge.  All this would take the cooperation of property owners, stakeholders, and local and state government.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

I think that there is distrust with government and “big” agriculture and there would be skepticism that the proposed plan would either cost the taxpayer too much or infringe on property rights.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

I believe that the best way to create the best possible outcome is through engagement of all the people in some form or fashion either by direct involvement or by representation.  This means that the general populus would need to put aside their mistrust or engage to a point of trust.  This would require a shift in the current social climate in that right now less people vote, volunteer, donate time, and engage in community than any time in the past.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Historically, the majority of people stands up and gets involved when there is a crisis.  Government is generally not pro-active.  It would take an incredible shift in our culture to bring all the stakeholders together before it becomes a crisis.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

If we all come together and implement a plan within the next five years, we should be able to turn this potential crisis around and have a vibrant ecosystem that would be healthy and sustainable.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The County Supervisors will have to take the lead and begin an open dialogue with all who wish to participate in devising and executing a plan.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I can write letters and suggest such a plan.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Encouraged that this information may get published and my voice might be heard.

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Tom Roth, former Environmental Aide for State Senator Noreen Evans; former Policy Advisor for California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (33)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

It’s my home, the place I raised my family, and a place I want to see protected and preserved, both the land and the great warm spirit of its residents.

How do you feel about this interview?

Curious.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

We’re doing better than most of the state, but unless we take the needed steps to protect our sources, that won’t be the case in the future...  And there are places in the county that now have severe problems.

How do you feel about it?

Some hope.  People are recognizing that there’s a problem.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Collapse of local agriculture and our local economy.

How do you feel about it?

It would be terrible.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Several important outcomes:

  • Workable groundwater management that protects our aquifers.
  • Protection of our rivers and streams that enhances biodiversity and safeguards against erosion and flooding.
  • Establishment of a water conservation ethic.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Some will be in denial.  Others will argue that regulation is an infringement on their property rights.  Others will be concerned about economic costs.  There will also be those who do not want to tinker with a current system that has worked for them.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

We’re all going to have to give a little to get a lot.  We need to think about water not as a commodity, but as essential to all life, and that what we do today will have either positive or negative effects on future generations.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

  • Support and work with your local watershed group.
  • Continue to support positive efforts towards sustainability by agriculture and business.
  • Participate in developing new groundwater and stream protection policies.
  • Implement conservation strategies at home & business, including rainwater harvesting, water-smart gardens and landscape.
  • Support political leaders who are willing to protect our local water resources from export.
  • Protect our redwood rain belt.
  • Participate in restoration efforts by Resource Conservation Districts and others.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

We should be in better shape than most of the state.  However, climate change is going to put enormous stress on all water resources.  We cannot live in isolation.  Global problems will affect all of us.  What we can do is recognize our problems, work together to resolve them, and hopefully set a good example that will make a difference elsewhere.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

We need to educate ourselves about the enormity of the problem and the choices we have to deal with.  Just start by googling “drought.”

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I’m making water conservation improvements at home, but I also will be getting involved again with water issues.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Good questions that make you think about the absolute necessity to deal with water issues.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Please insert photo here

Our coast ever refreshes my spirit.

Sonoma Coast


Wendel Trappe & Jonathon Trappe, Canyon Rock Co., Inc. (29)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Born and raised.

How do you feel about this interview?

Nervous.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?  How do you feel about it?

Water will become a major issue and more must be done to store winter time rainfall.  Example: Southern California has done a very good job at water storage infrastructure.  They have done it in areas where rivers do not get impacted. 

Sonoma County is going to continue having water issues as it becomes more populated, especially in West County.  Always has and always will.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

The county quits issuing building permits.  If the county and cities quit issuing permits, it would hurt the construction industry unless they invested in infrastructure.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

People working together from all industries and agencies.  Must go into it with open minds and not an agenda.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People are stuck on their own agenda and not willing to listen.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People have to plan for the future, not just the next 5 years, but the next 100.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Education of industry, public, and government on water conservation, recycling, and storage.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

If people are allowed to store more winter water, we will not be in the situation we are today.  If they did work together, it would be good.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Change in philosophy.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

We have built multiple ponds and have a water reclaim system that allows us to recycle 95% of our water.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

We think it is a great thing that you are doing.  We hope it educates people on the issues that are facing Sonoma County now.  It is going to take things like this to make people work together.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amanda Lomeli, substitute teacher in Roseland (34)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I have called Sonoma County my home for most of my life, and plan to stay here.  Sonoma County represents a place of growth and love to me.  This is where my family has grown close and I couldn’t be more happy to live here.

How do you feel about this interview?

I am excited to share my thoughts through this interview.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

As far as I can tell, Sonoma County is doing better than many other areas in California when it comes to the water situation, yet we still have to work to protect our precious water resources.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that there is a lot of information available about where our water comes from, which allows Sonoma County residents to be more aware.  I see this with my young students who have had trips to the Russian River watershed, and with schools providing water bottle filling stations.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

The worst outcome would be for residents of Sonoma County to ruin our natural resources.  It is of the highest importance that individuals do their part in saving water whenever possible in order to create the least amount of negative impact on our ecosystem.

How do you feel about it?

I do feel that residents of Sonoma County care a great deal about this issue, whether they are part of the local agricultural industry or not, so I feel confident that we will take action to improve the water situation.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

The best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County would be for our regulations on water use and resource utilization to improve beyond the current standard.  What I mean by this is that figuring out the most efficient and ecologically friendly way of getting our water would be ideal.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Reasons people would say the best possible outcome is impossible may be that individuals believe there is not enough invested in improving the water situation, or that they believe there is a lack of resources.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Individuals would need to first learn about the importance of conserving water, and take action in their own lives to save it whenever possible.  They would need to believe that, although they are just one person, what they do to help the situation matters.  Also, keeping an eye on decisions made at the city or county level on water issues would allow the best possible outcome to occur.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

An action individuals could take to reflect new beliefs they accept about the water situation could be as simple as catching extra water when doing the dishes or showering by putting a bucket over the drain and reusing that water for another task.  Adding simple actions like this one to daily routines would help the water situation improve.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

If individuals work together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, I envision our county as a prospering, green, sustainable place in 20 years.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel very confident about the possibility of Sonoma County continuing to be an agriculturally driven area, with enough water for all.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The first step to realizing that vision is to inform local residents of Sonoma County about the water situation.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

One action I can do right now to make that happen would be to talk to others about the situation, and share information.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

I feel very glad that I was able to participate in this interview.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Having diverse people and diverse landscapes in my reach is what means the most to me about life here in Sonoma County.

Amanda Lomeli - diverse people - diverse landscape - 34

 

Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh, Clean Water Sonoma Marin

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Moved here to be in a cleaner, more human-supportive environment (from Orange County, California).  Also to start a business with my mother in 1987.  Have been involved in politics here since then.  Community volunteer on many issues.

How do you feel about this interview?

Comfortable about interview.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

As a former Rohnert Park City Councilmember in 1992, I first became aware of the overdrafting of wells and the need to SLOW that down.  I believe the water situation is worse than the public is made to feel.  But, I will say that the SCWA is doing an extraordinarily better job than 8 years ago.

How do you feel about it?

GOOD because I have sat on the Sonoma County Groundwater Management Committee (SCGWMC) for 4 years, producing a state required management plan ahead of state law.  And now we have a doable plan.  And can qualify for state grants to implement some of them soon.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

Clearly we are in a fourth year of serious drought.  Not confronting a problem makes it worse.  The more that people are educated and participate, the more they feel they have a stake in the solution.  If we don’t, we will have to ration water.  I see that coming if we have 2 more years of a drought.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Just because you might be a person who can “afford” more water, you shouldn’t.  We see those regulations coming down.  I’m for it.  Why?  Once you pull too much water out of a well, it collapses and is lost forever.  Capturing, sinking, and filling wells properly takes everyone’s cooperation.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

  • Can’t afford it.
  • Cities getting along on solutions.
  • People will always disagree on “how” something will be done.
  • Lack of leadership.
  • Living for today = trap; unable to think long-term.  I think there is a significant amount of people just not thinking long-term.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People will need to have faith that a little behavior modification regarding water use, reuse, etc. will make future water supplies more secure.  Sonoma County is beginning to better capture water during peak season and will use it to refill wells during drier (summer) times.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

More people need to embrace roof capture & shower and sink capture of water to water lawns, plants, wash cars, all things that potable, drinkable water should not be used for.  Trust government to do their part only after we have supported them to do so.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

I think and will work towards Sonoma County being an example to other counties on how to respect water.  I am already actively working towards that vision as I have stayed on the SCGWMC for several more years.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The public needs to be educated that the county’s goal of conservation is not just so we can have massive growth, but to have water in the future.  Also, the cost of water is the delivery and earthquake preparedness.  The average person doesn’t think of this.  As I said previously, it will take money.  But if we use less, store more (all of us), the increases in cost won’t be great.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I am doing that right now in this interview.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Still comfortable.  I hope that at least one person reading will take action, too.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Spending time with the kids at Hahn Elementary, planting organic, fluoride free vegetables.

kids at Hahn Elementary

 

Don McEnhill, Russian Riverkeeper  (35)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Grew up spending my summers on the River along Fitch Mountain.

How do you feel about this interview?

Intrigued.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

I am worried about our vulnerability to the changing climate – drought and floods will be more extreme, and we are very vulnerable to the more extreme weather events that will harm wildlife and our economy.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that, while we are talking about climate adaptation, we are not focused on preparing our water resources for more extreme weather events.  We need to acknowledge that the physical condition of rivers and streams has to change to reduce impacts from more extreme weather events we can expect in the near future.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Our salmon will go extinct due to prolonged droughts and the lack of minimum stream flows to provide water for fish.  Our economy will suffer too as droughts reduce crop yields and create winners and losers based on who has the biggest pumps and the deepest wells.  Homeowners are already experiencing dry wells when near deeper and more powerful Ag wells.

How do you feel about it?

I know we have enough water for all uses, including fish habitat.  It is our lack of management to ensure all water demands are equitable and existing water laws do not ensure fish and wildlife are protected when we have droughts.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

If all users of water worked together and used science-based methods to determine how much we need to leave in streams for fish and wildlife, we could divide remaining water among all users equitably.  In drought years, if we have 50% of normal rainfall, then users should reduce use by that amount to avoid de-watering streams & depleting groundwater.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Many people will say that CA water law allows them to use as much water as they can and hide behind outdated laws.  Whether one has a legal right to suck a stream dry does not make it sustainable.  The reason people will not say in public is that they are not concerned with anything but their own need for water.  Whether it is a rural home on a well near a stream that has extensive water-demanding landscapes or a vineyard owner with a bank loan, they want to protect what they have.  If everyone could agree on general goals – like preserving salmon – then we could start from that basis and reach common ground.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

We live in a water scarce area and have to live with less water.  Homeowners should stop planting non-native or thirsty landscapes like lawns.  Grape growers can invest in new technology to give them confidence that it is safe to use less water & still have a quality crop.  Acknowledging that certain areas are water scarce & avoiding high water use in those areas will avoid more conflict.  Changing how we manage stormwater from something we make go away rapidly to slowing down stormwater so it can recharge groundwater should be a major priority.  To address floods, we have to acknowledge we have provided far too little room to handle flood events without suffering damage.  We have to find equitable means to allow streams more room to flood, & provide ecosystem services such as groundwater recharge & pollutant filtering & habitat to be prepared for climate change.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Investing in easements along steams that re-locate land use a bit further from streams is the best climate change adaptation we can take as a community.  In Napa, landowners are moving vines & structures away from Napa River to provide more room for flood water, fish habitat & bank erosion.  This is a valuable investment in reducing the conflicts with river functions.  Water use and CA water law must change and provide some means of ensuring water for fish & wildlife, especially in droughts.  The other benefit to working towards sustainable water use is avoiding depletion of groundwater, which is our water supply in droughts.  Today, we are depleting that groundwater so it will not be there in future droughts.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Our vision is a county and watershed with a healthy agricultural sector & economy with rebounding fish populations.  Our community would be able to endure future prolonged droughts with much less impact to our economy & wildlife.  Our community sees our water as a community bank account that can’t afford only withdrawals, but has to have new water use patterns adding deposits equal to all withdrawals.  This is an achievable goal that we need to focus on today & can’t risk putting off to the future.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

The first step is to identify & convene representatives from all water user groups – like we have for emission reductions – to work on establishing goals that move us to more sustainable water use.  As a community, we have to all agree to work towards more sustainable water use.  Once we agree to work toward that goal, we can make progress.  Starting by making all water use, groundwater & surface water transparent is critical so we can know our water demands & determine how much we use in reality.  This is not information we have today and trying to address water use is impossible without that information.  Riverkeeper has been educating the community on water conservation & the need to replace high water demand landscapes & plumbing fixtures with low volume.  We promote irrigation methods that reduce water use & improve efficiency.  We are starting to work with agriculture to find ways to capture more stormwater to recharge groundwater & reduce flood peaks & channel erosion.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Too little time to address such important & complex issues, but we have to start somewhere, so really appreciate the opportunity.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Sitting in the stern of my kayak, taking a picture of my two kids that represent the most important stakeholders Riverkeeper works for – present and future generations who will measure us by the legacy we have left them on the river.  How will they judge us?

 Riverkeeper stakeholders - Don's children

 

Erik Ohlsen, Permaculture Artisans (39)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I grew up in Sonoma County and have spent half my life managing gardens, forests, watersheds, pastures and community organizations within Sonoma County.  I’m here to stay..!

How do you feel about this interview?

I’m honored to take part in this interview and commend the mission of building partnerships with land and people.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

The water situation is complex in Sonoma County.  Depending on where one lives in the county, your water source will vary.  Our dependence on river and lake water is troubling and unsustainable.  We are fortunate there are so many skilled designers and practitioners in Sonoma County who know how to catch, store, and distribute rain water.  The solutions exist.  We just need more action and support from our electeds and planning departments to promote and incentivize small-scale rain-sourced water systems.  Additionally, it is important to recognize the agricultural use of water in our region.  Education and support for helping vineyard operators and ranchers to implement storm water catchment strategies on the land could have an enormous effect in reducing the county’s water consumption.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that we need to change our frame as it relates to the water crisis.  Many solutions exist for better utilization of rain water and our landscapes.  I feel we need to see this crisis as not just a water crisis but a runoff crisis.  Runoff mitigation and water catchment strategies can and will provide our region with solutions to some of our water issues.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

The worst possible outcome I can think of in not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County is the potential for our water resources to be prioritized for big Ag and development.  I also fear that we may reach a carrying capacity where there is not enough water for our communities and we end up destroying our natural resources in our desperation to meet the needs of our region.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that we need to change our relationship to the environment in such a way that we recognize the sustainable carrying capacity of our water resources.  We need to plan accordingly to curb wasteful use of water and develop within the constraints of nature.  I’m not saying all development is bad.  My perspective as an ecological designer is that we can increase water resources through regenerative design and implementation strategies for new developments.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

The sooner we can build broad coalitions between all the various stakeholders in our community, the better.  A great outcome of confronting and planning for a sustainable water future is that we can mitigate the negative impacts that the water crisis is increasingly having on our ecologies and communities.  Even better than that, if we implement innovative water regeneration strategies, we will see an increase of healthy ecosystem services while simultaneously building a sustainable domestic water supply.  This is possible..!

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Water is very political and the economy of Sonoma County is deeply tied to our overuse of the region’s water supply.  Economic contraction will be the greatest reason people will use to keep ecological and conservation strategies from scaling up to meet the needs of the region’s water crisis.  There is a lot of difficult work ahead to achieve a best possible outcome and it’s important that all stakeholders contribute to the implementation of solutions.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

First and foremost, folks need to learn about innovative storm water catchment and management systems.  We need to accept that the solutions need to be implemented at the local level and a centralized water system will not last into the future.  We also need to work in a spirit of collaboration and not let prejudice rule how we work with stakeholders who might have a different view than us.  We need to understand that we are all in this together and find creative solutions that can work for everyone.  We also need to understand that these changes will not happen over night and stay focused on a multi-year phased approach that allows for our biggest water users to invest in long-term solutions.  We need to remember that humans have an incredible ability to restore the environment and build a new economy based on restoration and regeneration.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Better education across the board about the solutions that exist.  Building of broad coalitions between big ag, developers, electeds, planners, environmentalists, and ecological designers.  If a group like this can come up with long-term strategies, it may just have the support needed to implement.  We also need immediate action from our planning department to make water catchment solutions easier to permit and build.  Many solutions that exist, like small ponds, tank installation, and water harvesting terraforming, are cost-prohibitive to most people because the engineering and permitting costs are so high.  This especially relates to septic systems and the need to have fewer obstacles to building solutions like greywater, compost toilets, and constructed wetlands.  We could greatly conserve hundreds of thousands of gallons of water if people could implement some of these strategies on small budgets.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

My vision is to live in a region of ecological paradise.  In 20 years, if we implement the solutions we already know about, I believe we can have water security, economic vitality, and social well-being.  I’m confident we could do this if enough decision makers and big business people signed on.  Ecological infrastructure is real and easily available for our region’s needs.  We just need to have the courage to make it happen.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel incredibly hopeful.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

The creation of a committee of stakeholders to envision a water abundant, ecologically based future is a good first step.  Planning department rollbacks of some of the obstacles to water catchment and conservation would also have an immediate impact.  Right now we can continue to put pressure on decision makers and institutions that make and enforce water policy in our county.  We can also immediately start shifting the infrastructure of our homes, farms, and cities to integrate water catchment, grey water, and conservation strategies.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

The questions in this interview are vitally important for all of us to ask ourselves.  I’m grateful to have a chance to offer a permaculture point of view to this discussion.  I hope that this interview can help people reframe the issues and the solutions.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Students of the Ecological Landscaper Immersion program installing water harvesting earthworks and a constructed wetland at the Permaculture Skills Center.  What I love most about Sonoma County is that the people here have the skills and passion to heal our watersheds and manage our ecosystems for future generations.

Students of the Ecological Landscaper Immersion program

 

Susan Gorin, First District Supervisor, County of Sonoma (38)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Chair, Board of Supervisors.

How do you feel about this interview?

Great.  Love talking about this personal/important issue.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Complex, changing, important.  Everyone needs to work together/collaborate for future.

How do you feel about it?

Passionate.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Water scarcity, unequal availability, threatened livelihood, hard feelings, moratoriums, tension.

How do you feel about it?

Worried.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Everyone shares in the solution.  Ownership.  Pride.  Greater understanding.  Behavioral change.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Too complex.  Easier to litigate.  Sense of entitlement.  Sense of losing livelihood.  Too expensive to change ways of doing things.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Understanding the complexity of the regulatory overlay, water supply, interface between surface water and groundwater, finite water supply, effects of climate change.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

  • Coming together.
  • Willingness to listen/learn.
  • Willingness to adapt to new ways of thinking about and using water.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Our water consumption will fall.  We will adopt new technologies & strategies to be water-thrifty.  We will adopt Best Management Practices for our groundwater and surface water users.  We will understand how it is important to work together.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Learning about our finite water supply and the connection between groundwater and surface water.  Educate, educate, educate – especially our children.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Good, but limited by ability to write quickly.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

What is Sonoma County to me? It is breathtakingly beautiful.

Breathtakingly beautiful Sonoma County

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Juan Hernandez, Executive Director, La Luz Center (37)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Resident, work.

How do you feel about this interview?

Good.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

In a drought.

How do you feel about it?

We need to find ways to capture rain water, and to educate kids and families on usage.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

Not to include everyone’s suggestions.  Only landowners will dictate water usage.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

These types of interviews and approach.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

  • Takes too long
  • People are not interested
  • People do not understand the “real” issue
  • People don’t care

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

  • How much water it actually takes to bathe, flush the toilet, brush teeth, etc.
  • How to capture rain water at home.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Start with kids (elementary).  Focus on families.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

We will have a system to mediate drought conditions.  Change the culture from wasteful to conservation.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Focus on conservation and train kids 5 years old to 12 years old.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Cool.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Empowering our community in Sonoma Valley

La Luz - Catalyst for Change in Sonoma Valley

Tony Anello, Spud Point Crab Company, Bodega Bay

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I am involved in the fishing industry.  And I love living in the county.

How do you feel about this interview?

Time consuming on a bad day.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?  How do you feel about it?

Needs help.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

No water for Ag.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Compromise.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Personal needs.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Communication.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

I don’t know.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Water enough for everybody.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I am not in a position at this time to do much.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Unnecessary to ask me because I am not involved in the water issues.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Commercial fishing on the Annabelle in Bodega Bay..!!

Bodega Bay fishing boats - Tony Anello - 41

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Alan Kostelnik, Gardens of the Wine Country

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Lived & owned a business here since 1976.  Love this area..!

How do you feel about this interview?

Just started..?

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?  How do you feel about it?

Right now, positive about water for 2015.  If any place knows how to conserve and respond positively, SoCo residents do.  I went through the Marin drought in the 1970s.  As a landscape contractor, that was severe.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

Domestic rationing is severe.  We need to avoid that.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Enough water for people, agriculture, all businesses.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Lots of excuses but biggest reason is they are too lazy or inattentive to their part.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Be attentive to their usage patterns, how not to waste and over-water.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Media needs to remind public.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

We will have enough water for everyone’s needs.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel positive we will do that.

Lovin’ Sonoma County..!! 36 Alan Kostelnik9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Focus on the issue by the media.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Promote water conservation with my business.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Good.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Lovin’ Sonoma County..!!

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Judie will be visiting Sonoma County in May 2015 for Round THREE of these interviews - stay tuned!