Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The informational order applies to all properties, including vineyards and wineries.
Thousands of rural Sonoma County landowners will receive orders, starting this week, to provide state water regulators with details of their use of surface and well water, the latest step in an emergency effort to protect coho salmon and steelhead trout in four watersheds draining into the Russian River.
Letters from the State Water Resources Control Board will be sent to landowners in the Dutch Bill Creek watershed in west county later this week, followed by notices to landowners in the Green Valley, Mark West and Mill Creek watersheds by Sept. 4, board officials said.
At the same time, local landowners, including grape growers, announced Monday voluntary efforts to curtail water use or release more water into the four creeks.
The mandatory reporting will require landowners to submit information — including the location of their water sources and amount of water used monthly — within 30 days or face potential penalties of up to $500 a day, the water board said.
The information is needed to estimate the total demand on the four waterways and determine if additional actions are needed to protect fish imperiled by the state’s prolonged drought, said Erin Ragazzi, environmental program manager for the water board. Mandatory curtailments on water use could be imposed to safeguard juvenile fish that must survive in dwindling pools until the rainy season, officials said.
Stream flows in the four watersheds continue to decline and without more water many, and perhaps all, of the fish will likely perish, Kirsten Macintyre, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, said Monday.
“We’re on the verge of losing an entire year of salmon,” said Gary Helfrich, a Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District board member.
Starting later this week, the district, which delivers drinking water to 350 Camp Meeker homes, plans to begin pumping 2,700 gallons an hour into Dutch Bill Creek, where small pools of water holding fish are growing smaller and warmer every day. Over the next three months, that water — which exceeds the district’s needs for residents — could add about 6 million gallons to the creek, he said.
Read more at: Landowners along four Russian River streams to receive | The Press Democrat