Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014

Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014


The Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, a Joint Powers Authority composed of the Cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Sonoma; the Town of Windsor; and the County of Sonoma, voted unanimously today to adopt an ordinance to reduce carryout bag waste throughout Sonoma County.

“This ordinance will cause a dramatic decrease in the estimated 258 million plastic carryout bags used throughout Sonoma County annually,” said Henry Mikus, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.  The ordinance is effective on March 21, 2014, and retailers are encouraged to phase out their existing stock of plastic carryout bags as soon as possible, but enforcement will not begin until September 1, 2014.  The ordinance will be effective countywide unless a member jurisdiction formally opts out of the ordinance.

This carryout bag waste reduction ordinance prohibits retail establishments (excluding public eating establishments and nonprofit charitable reusers, as defined by the ordinance) from providing customers with plastic carryout bags at the point of sale or other departure point. 

Bags exempt from this ordinance include plastic bags without handles

(1) to transport produce, bulk food or meat from a produce, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale;

(2) bags used to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or

(3) bags used to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a reusable or recycled paper bag. 

Paper bags made of at least 40% post consumer recycled content may be provided to customers for a minimum charge of $0.10 per bag.  Reusable bags, as defined by the Ordinance, may also be provided to customers. 

Retail establishments will be required to maintain accurate records of the number of recycled-content paper bags purchased and sold for a minimum of three years.  Violation of the carryout bag waste reduction ordinance would be an infraction, subject to fine, as defined by the administrative penalties ordinance.

Please visit for more information.

via Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Local OrganizationsTags Leave a comment on Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

EARLY BIRD TICKETS are $40 UNTIL FEBRUARY 14; $60 after February 14.

The 38th Annual Environmental Awards Dinner will be held Sunday, March 16, 2014, at the Sebastopol Community Center, from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
The Dinner is sponsored by the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter and Sonoma County Conservation Council and benefits the Environmental Center of Sonoma County. 
This year’s topic is, Building a Stronger Coalition between Agriculture and Environment. Farm and grazing lands represent 58% of Sonoma County’s land area. How these lands are stewarded is of critical interest to the public, the land owner/manager, and to the plants and animals that are found there. As Sonoma County looks ahead it is faced with needs that often appear to conflict: to preserve the economic viability of agriculture and protect the integrity of the many ways everyone benefits from healthy ecosystems. In this short and provocative talk, Joseph McIntyre, President of Ag Innovations Network, will share his thoughts on how to build a strong coalition between agricultural and environmental interests that can address the public’s need both for healthy food and a healthy environment.
Also featured is live music by Duo Giuliani – Terry Mills, guitar, and Richard Heinberg, violin. Their repertoire spans five centuries and includes tangos, hot jazz, and renaissance dance music.
A silent auction, many non-profit displays, a delicious dinner by A la Heart Catering, and of course, the Environmental Awards, will fill out this festive evening.
Tickets are $40 UNTIL FEBRUARY 14; $60 after February 14.
Purchase online at or send a check payable to SCCC to PO Box 4346,  Santa Rosa, 95402. Please see web site for student ticket and group rates as well as work trade information.  Sponsorships welcome to support discounted tickets and Environmental Center operations.
For more information, contact Wendy at 707-544-4582;
via Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards

Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards


The historic drought and the emphasis on conserving potable water is bringing new urgency to using reclaimed wastewater for irrigation.

The Healdsburg City Council at 4 p.m. Friday is holding a special meeting to consider extending a pipeline from the city’s sewer plant to provide highly treated wastewater to surrounding vineyards.

It also would make it easier for trucks to access and haul the water beyond Healdsburg, not only for vineyards and orchards, but for frost prevention and dust control.

“It’s great quality water. There’s people who could use it,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “It’s a tremendous offset for potable water (use).”

Currently the state-of-the-art treatment plant discharges about one million gallons daily of “near drinkable” reclaimed water into a pond, which then leaches into the adjacent Russian River.

via Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , Leave a comment on Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River

Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River


A ruptured sewer main is spewing out as much as 40,000 gallons per hour in Guerneville and at least some of the untreated waste has reached the Russian River, the Sonoma County Water Agency said.

The pipe ruptured around 12:20 p.m. at the corner of Beach and Orchard avenues. Repairs are expected to last through the night.

It’s not clear how much of the waste is reaching the river, but the agency said the majority is being recovered and pumped into tanker trucks for safe treatment elsewhere.

Drinking water supplies are not threatened, but the Sweetwater Springs Water District, which supplies water to the area, was asking customers to reduce consumption to slow the flow of the sewage, the agency said.

via Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sonoma CoastTags , Leave a comment on Feds approve more fracking off California coast

Feds approve more fracking off California coast


The federal government has approved three new fracking jobs off the shores of California as state coastal regulators voiced concerns about potential environmental impacts.

The work in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a 1969 oil platform blowout, has not yet begun and it was not immediately clear when it would.

The disclosure Wednesday came as the California Coastal Commission attempts to exercise greater oversight of the contested practice known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep into rock formations to free oil.

The environmental impacts of fracking and other well stimulation techniques "are not well understood. To date, little data has been collected," said Alison Dettmer, a commission deputy director.

The agency launched an investigation into the extent of offshore fracking after The Associated Press last year documented at least a dozen instances of companies using the technique since the 1990s in federal waters.

via Feds approve more fracking off California coast.

Posted on Categories Local Organizations, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Local ecologists and botanists advise Vegetation Mapping Team

Local ecologists and botanists advise Vegetation Mapping Team

Winter 2014 Newsletter, SONOMA VEG MAP
February 18th, 7:30 PM, California Native Plant Society, Milo Baker Chapter, General Meeting at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa, Santa Rosa.
Creating a Countywide Vegetation and Habitat Map of Sonoma County
Tom Robinson, Dr. Todd Keeler Wolf, Julie Evens and Joan Schwan will deliver a talk providing an overview of the program, describing the fieldwork and classification components completed to date, and how CNPS members can contribute to the project.

From the Newsletter:
The Local Ecology and Botany Advisory Group – 35 experts in ecology, botany, and natural resources management – convened at the Laguna Foundation’s Heron Hall in late January to advise the vegetation and habitat mapping team. The meeting began with presentations by members of the mapping team (Tom Robinson, Mark Tukman, and Joan Schwan) followed by breakout sessions. In the breakout sessions, committee members advised the mapping team on possible locations for field work, occurrences of unique or rare vegetation communities, and existing fine-scale vegetation data for use by the mapping team. Committee members also provided valuable input on strategies for maximizing the usability of the vegetation and habitat map.
For a list of Ecology and Botany Advisory Group members, see this blog post. Thanks to our ecologists and botanists for donating their time and expertise to help us make the best map!
via Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping and LiDAR Program – Winter 2014 Newsletter.

Posted on Categories WaterTags Leave a comment on Reservoir levels growing, but drought measures remain

Reservoir levels growing, but drought measures remain


The sun came back out Monday but four days worth of rainfall continued pouring into the region’s reservoirs, raising Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma from three to four feet, with days left to go — maybe a week, even — before the water levels were expected to crest.

Despite the strong storm and heavy runoff, local government officials said drought measures, including mandatory cuts for water users in Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Willits, were still on. The Sonoma County Water Agency’s request for voluntary 20 percent cuts for its municipal contractors, covering most other cities in the county, also remains in place.

Four-day rainfall totals for Sonoma County included 15.41 inches in Cazadero and 11.70 inches in Guerneville, according to AccuWeather.

Santa Rosa received 6.46 inches over the same four days, AccuWeather reported.

via Reservoir levels growing, but drought measures remain (w/video) | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Petaluma slaughterhouse ceases operations

Petaluma slaughterhouse ceases operations

Robert Digitale, Jamie Hansen & Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A Petaluma slaughterhouse at the center of a growing recall has voluntarily ceased operations while it attempts to track down and retrieve every shipment of beef from the facility over the past year.

The enormous scale of the recall raised questions about the future of the North Bay’s last beef processing facility and set off criticism of federal regulators by local ranchers who rely on Rancho Feeding Corp. to slaughter their cattle.

The recall, which began Jan. 13 and was initially restricted to meat processed on a single day, expanded Saturday to include all 8.7 million pounds of meat processed at Rancho in 2013.

Robert Singleton, who owns Rancho with partner Jesse “Babe” Amaral, on Monday night said the company undertook the recall out of “an abundance of caution” and regrets any inconvenience to customers.

via | Petaluma Argus-Courier | Petaluma, CA.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable LivingTags Leave a comment on Rancho recall: The end of Sonoma County beef?

Rancho recall: The end of Sonoma County beef?


Petaluma’s Rancho Feeding Corp. is under fire after two recalls, the latest involving millions of pounds of “possibly diseased meat” according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It received one of the most serious warnings, a Class 1 Recall, a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

But here’s the thing…no one is saying the meat actually was diseased. And no one has reported any illnesses from the beef, most of which has already been sold and consumed according to producers.

via Rancho Recall: The End of Sonoma County Beef? | Restaurants and Dining in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and Wine Country.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on After the deluge

After the deluge


Last weekend, rain fell in drenching, gushing sheets across Northern California. Stream levels bounced up, fish again had room to swim and farmers saw puddles form over their dusty properties. The Russian River, flowing at a trickle of 24 cubic feet per second last week in Mendocino County, had become a torrent of more than 4,000 by Sunday. But the relief did not undo the work of the driest year on state record.

"This did not put this drought to bed in the slightest," says Sean White, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control District. Just over five inches fell in Ukiah, and Lake Mendocino’s volume jumped by about 20 percent. But it’s still half of its normal February capacity, White says, and there remains the real chance that the reservoir could be empty by September.

via After the Deluge | Features | North Bay Bohemian.