Mendocino County Water Updates
Russian River Frost Regulation:
Fact Sheets, Forms and Links can be found below
2012 Frost Season Update
Russian River Flow Status
As of March 1st, the Sonoma County Water Agency declared the flow releases on the Russian River to be “Critically Dry”. Under Decision 1610, issued in 1986, a water year is declared normal, dry, or critical on the first of each month between January and June based on cumulative inflow into Lake Pillsbury, located in Lake County on the Eel River. This “critical” designation means the Water Agency is permitted to reduce Russian River flows to preserve water storage in Lake Mendocino so there is enough for all water users and for release in the fall to support migrating Russian River Chinook salmon, listed as threatened on the Federal Endangered Species List.
Because rain is expected and water is still coming into the Russian River from its tributary streams, it is unlikely that flows will drop to the levels indicated below. However, these flows are permitted under Decision 1610 in order to preserve water storage in a critical year designation:
· Upper Russian River(Between Lake Mendocino and the confluence of Dry Creek and the Russian River near Healdsburg): 25 cubic feet per second (“dry” minimum flows currently in effect are 75 cfs; “normal” minimum flows are 185 cfs)
· Lower Russian River(between the confluence of Dry Creek and the Russian River to the Pacific Ocean): 35 cfs (“dry” minimum flows currently in effect are 85 cfs; “normal” minimum flows are 125 cfs)
· Dry Creek(between Lake Sonoma and the confluence of Dry Creek and the Russian River): No minimum flow change (“critical,” “dry” and “normal” minimum flows are 75cfs)
The next status change for flows on the Russian River will occur on April 1st. Due to March rain storms and the increased flows into Lake Pillsbury, it is expected that the Sonoma County Water Agency will declare the flows to be declared “Dry” which is an improvement over the current “Critically Dry” declaration.
2012 Frost Season
For the 2012 frost season, the coordination efforts between Sonoma County Water Agency, the Russian River Flood Control and the grower community in the upper basin will once again be important. The coordination efforts on the main stem of the Russian River will allow for compensatory releases to be made out of Lake Mendocino to be used for both frost protection and off-stream pond recharging.
If you are a main stem diverter, please contact the Russian River Flood Control office at 462-5278 and let us know how many acres you will be frost protecting. Please plan on updating acreage numbers on a regular basis as different varietals start to be protected. In this way water demand for frost protection can be calculated and compensatory releases can be scheduled with Sonoma County Water Agency as needed.
Also, if a water release is scheduled, frost diverters with off-stream storage on the Main Stem of the Russian River are asked to begin to recharge ponds immediately following the end of a frost event in order to maximize usage from the compensatory releases of water from Lake Mendocino. Please plan on keeping ponds full so that coordination of the quantities of water released can be consistent. If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact the Russian River Flood Control District
Water release information will be included in the Fox Weather reports for you to reference. Fox Weather information is a benefit provided for Farm Bureau members. Please contact the Mendocino County Farm Bureau at 462-6664 for information.
For the tributaries, there is no ability to make compensatory water releases to accommodate frost demands. It is important that diverters on the tributaries are conscious of water conditions, that coordination efforts amongst tributary diverters continue and that all diverters maintain accurate records of water use. See sample bilingual pump record attached.
All diverters should review relevant gauge data to be up to date on flow status. Please see the links below for Russian River gauges in the upper basin.
Russian River Gauge Links
Coyote Reservoir Inflow and Outflow
West Fork of the Russian River
Russian River- Talmage (new gauge behind Ukiah Treatment Plant)
Russian River- Hopland and South
York Creek- SWRCB Gauge
McNab Creek- SWRCB Gauge
Dooley Creek- SWRCB Gauge
As many are aware, an injunction was granted on February 2nd by Judge Moorman in the Mendocino County Court system. This means that the terms within the SWRCB Russian River Frost Water Regulation are on hold until further decided by the court system. Simultaneously, the Sacramento Court denied the request by the Attorney General (representing the SWRCB) to consolidate the two frost regulation cases [Light’s and the Russian River Water Users for the Environment (RRWUE) group] to Sacramento. Therefore, the two cases will be consolidated to Mendocino County where both cases will be heard simultaneously. Both the Light’s, the RRWUE Board and named plaintiffs, as well as affiliated legal representation have met and discussed the case in order to come to agreement on the appropriate next steps. The next court date will be June 4th and 5th and will be heard by Judge Moorman at the Mendocino County Court House in Ukiah. For more information or to make a financial contribution toward the litigation efforts, please contact the Mendocino County Farm Bureau.
It is important to remember that even though an injunction of the regulation has been granted, the Endangered Species Act and other regulatory mechanisms are still in place. All diverters should continue to implement BMP’s (best management practices), coordination efforts and record keeping to ensure that water can be used for frost protection as well an endangered salmonid species.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Mendocino County Farm Bureau
Mendocino County Farm Bureau
303-C Talmage Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
Russian River Frost Regulation Update and
Pending February 1st Deadline
On September 20th, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted the Russian River Frost Regulation and the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the regulation into law on December 29, 2011. You can find it on the State Board website here.
Please review the regulation’s accompanying resolution document for additional clarification on the timeline for compliance with the regulation:
The requirements in this regulation apply to ALL diverters who use water in the Russian River Watershed for frost protection purposes including:
* All pre-1914, permitted, licensed, riparian, and groundwater rights
*All tributaries, the Main Stem and West Fork of the Russian River except for diversions that occur above Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma.
* All wells, no matter how deep or how close to a surface water source, are included for 3 years until an individual well can be shown to not have an impact on surface flow.
* All diversions from the Russian River Flood Control District or any other water district.
* The only exemptions are diverters in Potter Valley and off stream reservoirs filled SOLELY with Redwood Valley Water District Water. Those diverters in Redwood Valley that use District water to supplement on-stream reservoirs or other reservoirs with other appropriated sources of water are NOT exempt!
There are numerous issues with this new regulation, and several legal challenges have been filed. Unfortunately, the time frame within which the SWRCB is requiring frost water users to submit WDMPs will not allow adequate time between the possible legal injunction and the required WDMP submission deadline. The litigation efforts will continue and the injunction hearings have been set for February 3rd, but the SWRCB will need to receive your initial WDMP by February 1st.
Anyone interested in attending the injunction hearing related to the Dr. Rudy Light litigation case that is being heard in Mendocino County on February 3rd at 9:30 am at the Ukiah Courthouse Department E is welcome. Anyone interested in attending the group litigation injunction hearing being held in Sacramento on February 3rd, please contact the Farm Bureau office.
February 1, 2012 Regulation Compliance Deadline
Starting February 1, 2012 all frost water diverters who fall under the Russian River Frost Water Regulation are required to submit an initial Water Demand Management Program (WDMP) to the SWRCB. A WDMP can be an individual or a group. According to the SWRCB Resolution Document mentioned above (p. 5), the initial WDMP submitted for approval is required to contain:
1) The identity of the governing body, a list of the names of the participating diverters, and, for each participating diverter, the sources of water used and the acreage frost protected.
2) They will also include a schedule for completing the frost inventory, developing and implementing a stream stage-monitoring program, and conducting a risk assessment
In order to help diverters comply with the recently adopted frost protection regulation the Russian River Flood Control District has prepared a WDMP template (see link below). Based on the SWRCB Resolution language for the Initial WDMP requirements, Section (A) thru (E-3) should provide adequate information for the requirements in (1) listed above. If you are applying as an individual you can list yourself as the governing body. If you are submitting WDMP’s for multiple ranches under one ownership, you should also describe if all of the ranches will be under a single WDMP or if each ranch will have an individual WDMP.
The requirements in (2) are very difficult to determine at this point. It is recommended to review the WDMP’s that have been submitted to the SWRCB as well as the responses from the SWRCB (see link below) to assist in fulfilling (2). Please note that (2) only requires a proposed schedule.
An electronic version of the WDMP can be found at the link below:
Previously submitted WDMP’s and the SWRCB responses to the submittals can be viewed at the link below under the WDMP heading and the subheading Mainstem Russian River WDMP’s:
Note that there is also SWRCB gauge information located at the bottom of this page for York Creek and McNab Creek in Mendocino County.
The new regulation makes it very easy for enforcement action, regarding your frost water use in the absence of a WDMP. Not having an approved WDMP
for frost protection diversions “is an unreasonable method of diversion…and shall be subject to enforcement.” The only evidence they need is the absence of a WDMP. According to SWRCB Staff member Jim Kassel at the meeting held last week in Ukiah, the enforcement process for not submitting a WDMP will be considered a violation of Water Code Section 100 and the SWRCB can issue an order of non-compliance with a time frame for becoming compliant.
If the compliance date is not met and the diverter is found to be in violation of the order of non-compliance, then fines can be charged up to $500 for
every day on non-compliance.
All frost water diverters are encouraged to submit the information required in the initial WDMP to the SWRCB by February 1st. You are also
encouraged to speak with your neighbors and organize collaborative groups, especially on the tributaries. This will be beneficial for future WDMP
requirements (if applicable) and for general water diversion as we enter into the 2012 frost season.
For 2012, please remember to keep records of diversion records for each frost event that includes hours of diversion, rate of diversion and volume of water diverted. This information will be useful for both water rights reporting as well as possible future reporting related to the regulation.
The Russian River Flood Control District, Sean White: (707) 462-5278
The California Land Stewardship Institute, Laurel Marcus: (707) 253-1226
The Mendocino County Farm Bureau, Devon Jones: (707) 462-6664
North Coast Resource Management, Estelle Clifton: (707) 485-7211 ext. 214
LACO Associates, Christopher Watt: (707) 462-0222
Where to send WDMPs:
Initial WDMP’s should be submitted to:
For certified mail (signature upon receipt) to:
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95812
For general mail:
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA. 95812-2000