Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , , ,

Clean storm drains seen as key to safeguarding Russian River


Most people pass by storm drains day in and day out, giving little thought to them as conduits to local waterways — and ultimately, the Russian River in much of Sonoma County.

An alliance of local cities, special districts and the county wants to change that.

The coalition has launched a regional campaign to raise public awareness about the link between surface streets and local creeks in hopes people will think again about allowing litter, pet waste and other pollutants to escape down the drain and into the Russian River watershed, home to salmon and steelhead trout and a wide range other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

The $60,000 Streets to Creek campaign is intended to promote the fact that storm drains are basically extensions of creeks and streams. Anything left on or in the street — dripped motor oil, pesticide residue, discarded trash or cigarette butts — is basically left to be washed into the river.

“There is surprisingly little awareness about where storm drains actually flow to,” said Andy Rodgers, executive director of the Russian River Watershed Association, a stewardship group formed in 2003 by Sonoma and Mendocino counties, eight cities and the Sonoma County Water Agency. “There’s a number of folks who have the impression that all water goes to the wastewater treatment plants. Other people don’t really think about where it goes.”

Case in point: On Aug. 10, three people living in a motorhome were caught by a neighbor emptying a 50-gallon tank of raw sewage into a storm drain in Santa Rosa’s Junior College neighborhood.


Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , ,

Cotati neighbors discover surprising fact about Laguna de Santa Rosa


Website for Headwaters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa

Shortly after Jenny Blaker and her husband moved to Cotati in 1996 they were approached by the city with a request to acquire a creek- bordered strip of land behind their house so that an existing bike trail might be extended. The couple agreed.
Upon completion, Blaker was pleased with the trail, but not with how the project left the creek. “Bulldozed, bare of vegetation,” she described it.
Gathering together a few friends and neighbors, they approached the city and the Sonoma County Water Agency for permission to plant native species along the creek’s edges.
At the same time, Blaker began to be curious about the creek itself, which she describes as looking more like a ditch than a wandering waterway. Where did the seasonal water running through it originate, and where was it going?
Research and maps revealed that the creek’s flow began southeast of town, made its way through a 3-mile stretch of the city and continued northwest through a series of confluences to end up in the magnificent wetlands mosaic that embraces the eastern edge of Sebastopol — the Laguna de Santa Rosa. And then the heady news. Much to Blaker’s surprise, because of its location in the southeastern extremity of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, Cotati’s watershed is in fact the acknowledged headwaters of the Laguna.
Meanwhile, with permission granted, Blaker’s small gathering of friends and neighbors set about improving the stretch behind her house with the goal of turning it into a more natural looking creek area.
So began the Cotati Creek Critters, a loose-knit assembly of friends and neighbors guided by Blaker, Maria Alvarez and others, in association with Cotati’s Community and Environment Commission. In the years to come the Critters grew from a half-dozen or so people showing up for twice-a–month “stewardship” days to as many as 60 pruning, mulching, planting, weeding, removing invasive species and collecting trash along the path-bordered creek.
Read more at: Cotati neighbors discover surprising fact about Laguna de Santa Rosa

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , ,

PG&E to pay $120,000 for Paulin Creek spill

PG&E has been ordered to pay $120,000 to settle claims that it allowed oil from an underground transformer to contaminate a Santa Rosa creek, prosecutors said Thursday.
A complaint filed in Sonoma County Superior Court alleges the spill into Paulin Creek happened during intense storms in February 2015.Crews were repairing a failed transformer at Sleepy Hollow Drive when oil leaked into a storm drain and flowed into the creek, prosecutors alleged.
PG&E failed to “immediately notify proper authorities of the discharge,” according to a statement from District Attorney Jill Ravitch.
Under the terms of the settlement approved by Judge Allan Hardcastle, PG&E will pay $80,000 in civil penalties and $40,000 in investigative and enforcement costs.
Source: PG&E to pay $120,000 for Santa Rosa creek spill | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Local OrganizationsTags , , ,

Master plan for Sonoma’s Maxwell Farms Park gets close


Regional Parks Maxwell Farms Plan Update

The future of Maxwell Park got another hearing Wednesday night in a well-attended and lively meeting of locals, interested parties and personnel from Sonoma County Regional Parks. Though billed as “Workshop #2” it followed by over a year the first such meeting, held Jan. 15 2015, and by 10 months a second workshop held at El Verano Elementary last April.
Those meetings were primarily about getting community input on the sorts of features resident would like to see in the 80-acre park, located between the City of Sonoma and Verano.
“It took us longer than expected to marshal the resources to move this plan forward, and allowed more time for researching background information and talking with the different interest groups,” said project planner Scott Wilkinson. He also cited the county’s work toward a Moorland Park on the site of Andy Lopez’ death in 2013 as shifting resources.
This time Wilkinson and Steve Ehret, also of Regional Parks, came with three developed maps for the property that each included the major features the community requested – and a large open-space area taking up almost half the park, in deference to the so-called “conservation easement” that accompanied the parcel when it was deeded to the county.
Though the fact that the county now owns the land essentially voids the easement – the county apparently cannot legally have an easement on land it owns itself, according to Ehret – that didn’t alter the commitment to the “spirit of the easement,” he said.
Read more at: Master plan for Sonoma’s Maxwell Field Park gets | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Santa Rosa Creek Week September 20-28

Santa Rosa Creek Week September 20-28

Alastair Bliefuss, CITY OF SANTA ROSA
Hello Creek Stewards,
This Saturday, to start off Creek Week, will be the 30th annual Coast and Creek Cleanup Day, one of the largest volunteer events in the world. What started as clean ups of our beaches has now spread to many inland waterways. After all, our creeks eventually run to the sea and data collected over the years indicate that the majority of trash along the California coast travels there through our creeks and rivers.
I hope that you will be able to join us on one of two creek clean ups in Santa Rosa starting at 9:00 Saturday morning. Details are available at
The link also includes details of the creek walks occurring during Creek Week, as well as activities along the Prince Memorial Greenway during Family Fun Day on Saturday, September 27th.
Coast and Creek Cleanup volunteers use data cards to keep track of every single item of trash picked up. This data is slowly having an impact on how the State of California regulates trash. You can visit the California Coastal Commission’s webpage to learn more about the “trash species” such as:
seagullusSwirlitarius singularum AKA single-use plastic coffee stirrer, Poopbagus disgustimus AKA bag of dog poop, Cuttano yourfoota AKA the common glass bottle, and Inflammatory sparkatorius AKA cigarette lighter. (116,345 cigarette lighters have been collected during Coast and Creek Cleanup Day since 1989. Buoyant and colorful, these items are often mistaken for food by seabirds and then fed to their young.)
The 1½ miles of Matanzas and Spring Creeks that border Doyle Park have been one of Santa Rosa’s cleanup sites since 2006. In those 8 years volunteers have collected 2,148 pounds of recyclable materials and 1,600 pounds of trash (including 56 cigarette lighters!)
Take care of your creeks, take care of your ocean!

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Annual Petaluma River fall trash cleanup September 20

Annual Petaluma River fall trash cleanup September 20

Saturday, September 20th 9am to noon
Join the Sonoma Resource Conservation District and the Friends of the Petaluma River in our Annual Petaluma River Fall Trash Cleanup starting in Downtown Historic Petaluma. The event coincides with the 30th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, a national effort where thousands of participants gather locally to keep our coasts and inland waterways free of debris.
"Solving our water pollution problems requires everyone’s involvement" (California Coastal Commission, 2013). Our focus is to strengthen the ways in which we can help restore and protect the Petaluma River Watershed for years to come.
In 2012, Sonoma County COASTWEEKS combined cleanup’s collected approximately 10,487 pounds of garbage and 727 pounds of recyclables. The Petaluma River Cleanup in 2013, pulled a total of 1,010 pounds of trash and recyclables from the river and tributaries.
We hope to see you out on the river at this remarkable community event to enhance and protect our watershed!

9:00 a.m. – noon Trash Cleanup
Noon – 2 p.m. Enjoy food and browse informational tables from community partners
Meet at 260 H North Water Street Petaluma, CA.
For more information contact Christine at 707-569-1448 x114 or
Or, see News & Events | Sonoma Resource Conservation District.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , Leave a comment on Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Water Agency lauded for creek outreach efforts

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Water Agency lauded for creek outreach efforts


Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Water Agency have won an award for their joint efforts to raise awareness about the health of urban creeks.

California Stormwater Quality Association praised the two agencies for the effectiveness of the outreach efforts of their Creek Stewardship Program.

The program does a good job of educating the public about the importance of creeks, encouraging citizens to get involved in clean-up efforts through the Creek Steward program, and is responsive to citizen concerns, the organization said.

via Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Water Agency lauded for creek outreach efforts | The Press Democrat.