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Sonoma County Receives Grant for Russian River Flood Planning

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Sonoma County Receives Grant for Russian River Flood Planning

California Department of Water Resources awards $120k for development of a Middle Russian River Flood Response Plan

The California Department of Water Resources has awarded Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services a $120,124 grant to develop a response plan for mitigation of potential flood impacts in the Middle Russian River area. The funding will be used to develop an inclusive Russian River flood plan using new data and technology to create accurate predictive flooding models in the Russian River region. Once the new models are complete, the County will conduct a simulated flood event with governmental and non-profit partners. The Middle Russian River stretches from the Sonoma County - Mendocino County border to Forestville and contains the cities of Healdsburg, Cloverdale and the Town of Windsor.  

“Over half of Sonoma County’s population could be at risk from flooding on the Russian River,” commented Supervisor James Gore, whose district encompasses the study area.  “Specifically, Northern Sonoma County is in dire need of developing this new plan.  In 2014, we saw kayaks floating in downtown Healdsburg.  This past year, we had Cloverdale residents fearful of their homes and businesses.  It’s time to put together an action plan that looks at incident response in the short term, and flood mitigation projects in the long term.”  

Historically, Sonoma County has experienced flooding in the Lower Russian River from Forestville to the Pacific Ocean. The past few decades have seen significant urban growth on the stretch of the river from Cloverdale through Windsor. This development, coupled with changes in climate, has raised concerns that the models used for flood prediction are insufficient to project flooding in the Middle Russian River region as well as the Laguna de Santa Rosa and their tributaries.   

“While we have a robust plan in place for managing floods in the Lower Russian River, we have been seeking funds to develop a similar plan for the middle section of the river,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Efren Carrillo. “One of our primary responsibilities as a local government is to prepare for and respond to disasters. This grant will enable us to more successfully meet that responsibility.”  

Development of a flood plan and utilization of available technology is a critical step towards reducing the impacts flooding may bring to this area of Sonoma County.