Growers can use river water again

State water regulators have lifted a nearly six-month freeze on certain water diversions from the upper Russian River, provoking relief among Sonoma and Mendocino county grape growers and others north of Healdsburg who are dependent on the river for crop irrigation and other uses.
Notice served over the weekend to 652 state permit holders whose claims to river water were suspended last May means they can once again pump from the river.
More importantly, given the season, those with permits allowing for wintertime storage can begin refilling reservoirs in preparation for the dry summer months if rain comes, several grape growers said.
For those users, lifting of the order to stop drawing water was “a tremendous relief for growers,” said Brandon Axell, general manager at Beckstoffer Vineyards in Talmage, south of Ukiah.
“This is the time of year where a lot of times we’ll get some big storms, and a lot of that water will just go downstream and into the ocean, ” said Brad Petersen, vineyard manager for Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars, as well as chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “Now is the time we need to be collecting that.”
The State Water Resources Control Board said it was lifting the curtailment because of reduced demand on the river since the end of October, successful water conservation savings and an increase in tributary flows. The order can be reimposed at any time, depending on weather and stream gauges, the board said.
via Diversion order lifted on the upper Russian River | The Press Democrat.

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