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State Cuts Off Hundreds of Russian River Growers, Ranchers and Others in Drastic Bid to Save Water

A day long dreaded by hundreds of ranchers, grape growers, farmers, water providers and towns arrived Monday as the state ordered them to stop diverting water from the Russian River watershed or be fined $1,000 a day.

State regulators issued orders effective Tuesday prohibiting about 1,500 water rights holders in the upper river — including the cities of Cloverdale and Healdsburg — from diverting water in an effort to preserve rapidly diminishing supplies in Lake Mendocino.

Lower Russian River Flows to Be Halved Under State Order to Preserve Stored Supplies

The Sonoma County water agency received permission Monday to immediately cut stream flows in the lower Russian River by more than half in an effort to conserve water stored in Lake Sonoma.

Instream flows in the upper river, above Dry Creek, which is fed by releases from Lake Sonoma, already are being maintained at a very low threshold to keep as much water as possible in Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the two reservoirs.

The state decision means Sonoma Water, the county agency, and its contractors — the cities of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Petaluma and Cotati, and the Valley of the Moon, Marin Municipal and North Marin water districts — will have to use 20% less water from the Russian River, as well.

Opinion: Feasibility Study for Scott Dam Removal Has ‘Frighteningly Misguided’ Conclusions

We have had a chance to review the feasibility study for the removal of the Potter Valley Project’s Scott Dam and find the conclusions used to be frighteningly misguided. George Santayana must have had the NOI parties – Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Sonoma County Water Agency, California Trout and the county of Humboldt – in this project in mind when he made the famous quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”