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Drought forces State regulations on Tributaries to the Russian River

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Drought forces State regulations on Tributaries to the Russian River

The State Water Board is considering adoption of an emergency regulation to help protect federal- and state-listed anadromous fish in four priority Russian River tributary watersheds (Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek, and Mill Creek).

The emergency regulation would require:
(1) enhanced water conservation; and
(2) information on water use. The State Water Board will consider adoption of the proposed emergency regulation on June 17 as part of its June 16-17, 2015 public meeting.

The ongoing drought places juvenile Central California Coast (CCC) coho salmon (coho salmon) and CCC steelhead (steelhead) in Russian River tributaries in a perilous situation, affecting the survival of the species.

Coho salmon and steelhead depend on pools with suitable temperatures and dissolved oxygen to grow during the summer months and then migrate to the ocean in the late fall through spring. Minimal water is needed to maintain acceptable temperature and oxygen conditions for these species to survive.

Sonoma County Watersheds for Coho Salmon habitat impacted by drought

In a letter dated May 28, 2015, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service recommend that the State Water Board develop emergency regulations for the affected watersheds to:
(1) issue informational orders to determine the extent of current surface and subsurface diversion operations in each watershed; and
(2) immediately implement conservation measures to limit the amount of water extracted from these watersheds.

Successful implementation of the proposed regulation will help provide the small amount of water necessary to maintain pools for summer rearing and migration of coho salmon and steelhead in the four Russian River tributary watersheds. 

The State Water Board is proposing a drought emergency regulation to establish and implement emergency drought requirements for the protection of federal- and state-listed anadromous fish in four priority Russian River tributary watersheds (Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek, and Mill Creek). The regulation would require specific water conservation measures of water users in those watersheds and provide additional informational order authority for the Board.

Russian River tributaries overview map

Quick Links

Emergency Regulation Development

  • June 16-17, 2015 Board Meeting Materials

Russian River Tributary Watershed Maps

If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact the Russian River Tributaries Hotline at (916) 322-8422 or rr_tribs_emergency_reg@waterboards.ca.gov.