Water Reliability Solutions for the Russian River Watershed
In response to the precipitous decline of coho salmon in the Russian River watershed, the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership (Partnership) formed in 2009 to develop a systematic approach to improve streamflow and water supply reliability in five Russian River tributaries: Dutch Bill Creek, Grape Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek, and Mill Creek. The Partnership is generously funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with additional support from the Sonoma County Water Agency.
The Coho Partnership is based on the premise that there is enough water for people and fish through careful planning and water supply management. In Coastal California, most rainfall occurs in the winter months followed by a dry period in the summer and fall. In the Russian River watershed, human and wildlife needs compete for annual water resources, and demand is highest when water is least available. This imbalance causes competition for water among users, jeopardizes survival of juvenile coho salmon in our fresh water streams, and leads to water diversions that dry up creeks and endanger fish.
The good news is that annual rainfall exceeds human needs and, by identifying the mechanisms through which water can be acquired and stored during winter for use in summer without affecting other environmental needs, we can work together to provide greater water security for everyone.
The Partnership is focusing initially on five key watersheds - Dutch Bill, Grape, Green Valley, Mark West, and Mill Creeks - because they have the most potential for stream flow enhancement and recovery of the coho salmon population.
To assist landowners and water users, the Partnership is using the best available science to develop workable solutions that reduce the impact of dry season water diversions from our streams. Collecting data specific to each watershed helps us measure improvements to stream flow, increase water reliability, and improve survival rates of coho salmon.
Changing the way you obtain water can benefit fish and improve your water security. The Partnership wants to work with you to assess your water needs, evaluate conservations strategies, and identify projects to reduce reliance on streams. Possible projects include: Roof water catchment systems and domestic water storage tanks Off-stream ponds Frost protection alternatives such as micro-sprinklers and fans Stream habitat restoration projects