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About Complaints
CCWI Comments:
Scott River TMDL
California Water Plan Update 2005
Henry Cornell Winery- Mark West Creek- Zoning Adjustment
Petition to improve Division of Water Rights Processes
Mixing Zones
Protecting the California Tiger Salamander
Santa Rosa's IRWP Master Plan
Water Rights on Salmon Creek
SFO Expansion
Ida Clayton Road- Water Rights Complaint
Vine Hill School Road- Groundwater Testing
Porter Creek: Gallo Incorportated- Erosion Complaint
Dutra Haystack Landing Asphalt Plant Final EIR.
Review of the 2006 Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary.
Pesticide Spray on Highway 1.
Comments on Draft Grading, Drainage and Vineyard and Orchard Site
Development Ordinance

AB 885 Onsite Wastewater Systems Program
2008 Integrated Report for the 305(b) Surface Water Assessment and 303(d) List of Impaired Waters
Bohemia Ranch
Preservation Ranch

 


About Complaints

CCWI can help you with your water quality problem by referring you to the appropriate regulatory agency or watershed group in your area, sending you factsheets and other information regarding water quality issues and water pollution, and, in certain cases, arranging for water testing and monitoring of representative polluted areas.

Click here to go to the CCWI Complaint Form to submit a complaint
of water contamination or degradation to CCWI.


CCWI also makes Public Comments to agencies or organizations which make decisions affecting water quality.

Below are selected letters and comments submitted for the public record. For background information on the issues discussed, please contact the CCWI office.

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October 11, 2005

Attn: Mr. Ben Zabinsky
Regional Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Boulevard, Suite A,
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
FAX: 707-523-0135

SUBJECT: Regional Board and State Board Policy - Total Maximum Daily Loads - Water Pollution Cleanup Plans for the Klamath and its Tributaries - Scott, Shasta and Lost Rivers

Dear Regional Water Quality Control Board:

Please accept these comments regarding the TMDL program.

In Region 5, Agricultural interests have appeared to be effective in disturbing the Waste Discharge Reporting program recently adopted and on the verge of implementation.

In Region I, Agricultural and timber interests are working hard to gut pollution cleanup plans (TMDLs) in the Klamath River Basin. This includes inappropriate actions and misrepresentations of the TMDL process and actions taken by the Regional Board staff. These inappropriate actions/statements were passed on to your office. I would like to take opportunity do discuss these actions and their implications and the status of TMDLs in general and the currently in process Scott River TMDL and Action Plan.

TMDLs and Action Plan - How They Work

TMDLs are assessments of the conditions related to the impaired status of a waterbody. The waterbody is determined as impaired by pollutants and put on a list for study and action - where the pollutants that are addressed in the TMDL. A study is done to determine the sources of
these pollutants (and what is attributable to human actions). Then estimations are made to determine the necessary reductions related to these sources that are needed to meet Water Quality Standards (as these standards are being violated). These quantifications are not going to be 100% accurate - they are general ballpark figures that point to planning (individual landowner assessment and Action Plans) that is necessary to meet targets and thus attain Water Quality Standards.

State water law says that an implementation plan must contain a description of the nature of specific actions that are needed to achieve the water quality objectives, a time schedule and a plan for monitoring compliance (State Water Code Section 13242). Thus the Action Plan must be adopted into the Basin Plan (Water Quality Control Plan for the Region).

Currently the Scott River TMDL Action Plan is totally voluntary. As you can see by the above noted Water Code Section, this is both unreasonable and illegal - unless voluntary are found to be equal to or better than other enforceable criteria for meeting Water Quality Standards. Of course voluntary actions comp should (and are) held open as options for attaining targets and to meet Water Quality Standards. .

This is the case with the Garcia TMDL Action Plan for sediment, where landowners have 3 years to assess their property for significant sediment sources, and where they have 30 to 40 years to comply with sediment source reduction by choosing Regional Board stated options or through voluntary ranch plans. Currently 60% of the land base of the Garcia River Watershed is undergoing evaluation and Implementation Planning. Most of these actions are on a voluntary basis (though enforceable guidelines exist). Through this process the Garcia Watershed is demonstrating significant progress towards recovery.

Scott River TMDL

For over 30 years water quality in the Scott, Shasta and Lost River have been degraded. This is mostly the result of non-point pollution The loss of beneficial uses - especially salmon and steelhead fisheries - translates into millions of dollars in lost fisheries and recreation as the water from the Scott flows down through Scott Canyon and then the Klamath River.

Actions that have lead to the degradation of the Scott River are: illegal diversion water, lack of conservation planning for water use, elevated water temperatures due to diminished stream flows and lack of near stream shading, elevated nutrients leading to depleted oxygen, clearcutting over streams and on steep, unstable, slopes that accelerates erosion and inundates streams and rivers with sediment.

Timber and agricultural interests are, in this case, responsible for degradation of the states waters and have taken the livelihoods of those who depend on salmon and steelhead - the downstream tribes, fishing-dependent river and coastal communities and those who make their living via river-based recreation.

With the Scott River TMDL, and as with the Garcia TMDL, Agricultural and Timber interests worked hard against adoption and implementation of enforceable standards that, even though flexible, push landowners in the direction of taking action that would reduce pollutant inputs over
time.

It is time that agriculture and timber interests finally step up and do their part to restore water quality and the communities which depend on clean water and cold water fisheries. The TMDLs and their Implementation Plans are the means to do this. Please do not let this opportunity slip away. Support the staff of the NCRWQCB and resist lobbying by agriculture, timber interests and others who are working to gut the cleanup plans.

Impaired Listings for California Salmon Streams

The listing of nearly all short run salmonid producing streams in California as impaired by pollutants (sediment, temperature, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen - EPA 305 (b) report, 303 (d) list) is testimony to the State's failure in the control of waste discharge from timber harvesting,
agricultural and industrial practices that contribute such pollutants, in deleterious quantities, to fish bearing streams.

All of these streams will be subject to Total Maximum Daily Load non-point - pollution control programs to be administered by the Regional Board (North Coast) and the EPA.

Clearly the State anti-degradation policy, and implementation of same, in Basin Plan(s), the Forest Practice Act (and Forest Practice Rules), and the State of California Fish and Game Code is not effective in protecting beneficial uses.

Conclusion

TMDLs and TMDL Action (Implementation) Plans have proven to be effective in addressing and finding reasonable solution to conditions existing in impaired water bodies.


Sincerely,


Mike Sandler
Program Coordinator
Community Clean Water Institute


July 11, 2005

Paul Dabbs
Statewide Planning Branch
California Department of Water Resources
PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001
e-mail: pdabbs@water.ca.gov
fax: (916) 651-9289
phone: (916) 653-5666

FOR THE PUBLIC RECORD

Dear Mr. Dabbs,

On behalf of Community Clean Water Institute, a citizen action organization based in Sonoma County, California, I would like to provide comments on the California Water Plan Update 2005.

I would like to commend the Plan for incorporating three foundational concepts into the plan:

1. Use water efficiently
2. Protect water quality
3. Support environmental stewardship

These three concepts are excellent choices for a Plan that will allow for a state water policy based on sustainable development.

Regarding Water Privatization and the Public Trust
The Public Trust aspects of water have been reaffirmed by courts over the past several decades. Preserving the public trust is a key role for regulatory and government agencies. When wealthy private interests move to privatize, or commodify, water resources, it is up to the agencies to protect and ensure the public trust prevails. I encourage the Water Plan to be aware of this movement among some profit-motivated organizations, and to encourage public control of water resources for the 21st century.

Regarding Climate Change
The Plan notes that DWR will evaluate management responses to potential impacts of global climate change on the State Water Project and California's hydrology. The Plan also encourages State government to help predict and prepare for the effects of global climate change on our water resources and water management systems.

I commend the Plan for taking a proactive approach to this issue, rather than a wait-and-see approach. It is of the utmost importance for the State of California to take action on this issue, and not to wait for others to act first.

Global climate change is one of the greatest threats to water resources and ecosystems over the next century. Climate change is expected to impact U.S. water resources and water availability in the western United States, including the following: decreased snowfall and snowmelt, a major source of drinking water for much of California; rising sea levels threatening coastal aquifers and water supplies; increases in lake and stream temperatures threatening fish, water species, and critical habitats such as wetlands. Although the U.S. population represents approximately 5 percent of the world's total, it accounts for over 25 percent of the emissions that cause global climate change.

Not only does it behoove DWR and other State agencies to look at climate change, consider its impacts, and research adaptation measures for the coming decades, but they should also look at active mitigation of the greenhouse gases created in moving water around the state, and provide incentives for local water agencies to reduce their greenhouse gases.

Two examples of this are the Marin Municipal Water District passed a resolution to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (mainly through reduction of fossil fuel use in their fleets, pumps, buildings and operations and through water use reduction over time). The resolution is, based on a resolution for local governments proposed by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (www.iclei.org/us), based in Berkeley, CA, and which has been passed by hundreds of local governments including all 10 in Sonoma County. The Sonoma County Water Agency will be passing a similar resolution in the next few months. These water agencies are looking at promoting energy efficiency on the supply and demand side. We have held workshops for their staff to look at "Watergy" a supply-demand integrated approach to water and energy efficiency from the Alliance to Save Energy (www.watergy.org). Please feel free to contact me for more information on this topic.

Water Quality Matching
An example of water quality matching is where a Bay Area local water agency with access to a water supply of relatively lower water quality could fund water recycling or water conservation projects in another agency's service area that has a higher quality water supply, in exchange for the higher quality water saved by those projects. This type of policy is flexible, creative, and incorporates water quality needs into a water project's goals, rather than simply a consideration of budget and acquiring new resources. This type of policy could allow California to achieve efficient accommodation for a growing population, and increased regional coordination between agencies. There are multiple co-benefits from this type of cooperation.

Citizen Monitoring
Our organization is involved with citizen monitoring of water quality. We believe that local citizens can become stewards of their watersheds, and provide cost-effective, scientifically rigorous monitoring and data collection. State funding for this type of effort would be a worthwhile investment in local communities. We encourage DWR and other government agencies to look at increasing funding for citizen water quality monitoring throughout the State, which will help the State meet its goals, and the goals of this Plan.

Conclusion
In general, this Water Plan seems more sophisticated in integrating environmental, social, and economic issues, than previous Plans. There is obviously a discussion occurring at the State level, which would be of interest to water managers around the State at the local level. I request that portions of the Plan be circulated to local water managers throughout the State. As more local managers see that it is now standard practice to protect in-stream flows, focus on efficiency of existing water supplies rather than looking for new sources, proactively address global climate change, and use low impact flexible policies such as water quality matching, these policies will become commonplace. I believe this will save California money and resources, and protect our water supply for the future. As Jared Diamond's book "Collapse" shows, a safe and plentiful water supply is vital to our civilization, and worth protecting.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mike Sandler
Program Coordinator
Community Clean Water Institute




June 7, 2005

Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Fax 565-3778

Re: Appeal of UPE 03-0092; June 7, 2005; Henry Cornell Winery

Dear Supervisors:

I am writing to ask you to reverse the decision of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and require that a legally adequate EIR be completed for a project proposed by Henry Cornell Winery in the upper Mark West Creek watershed.

Community Clean Water Institute has been conducting water quality monitoring in Mark West Creek for the past 3 years. We are concerned about the decreasing quantity of water in the creek during the summer. We have received complaints from residents of the watershed who have monitored water levels in the creek for several decades. Water levels have been decreasing over the past 5 years to the point where the creek dries up at its headwaters. We feel this is due to groundwater pumping by the vineyards which were installed in the late 1990's. Also, the decreased water retention due to lack of forested land on the ridgetops of the watershed. Henry Cornell Winery's project will likely impact this situation, and therefore merits a full EIR.

The proposed project is located where groundwater availability is, according to the County, marginal. Mark West Creek has experienced dramatic reductions in summertime flows over approximately the past five years. The watershed is arguably already significantly impacted by both sedimentation of the creek and its vital spawning and rearing habitat and by huge increases in summertime groundwater demands of late.

We have been notified of grading violations associated with the Cornell Project, one of which occurred in the fall of 2000 on steep slopes above Mark West Creek. The property owner was cited for "bull dozing a road and major earth movement". These activities should raise concerns, and we advise County staff to give this project additional scrutiny.

Breaking a larger project into smaller projects, which has the effect of minimizing the appearance of impacts, has been recognized by the Courts as antithetical to the intent of CEQA, and it is not permitted. The project should be reviewed by way on a legally adequate EIR. The Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) is inadequate. The author of the MND is not a geologist.

At least four other landowners are currently clearing land or already have relatively new agricultural ventures in the immediate vicinity of the proposed winery in this marginal groundwater area. Mark West Creek is drying up, unable to maintain a base flow or critical summertime pools.

On behalf of watershed members who have expressed concerns over the superficial environmental review to which this project has been subjected, I request that the Board reverse the decision of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and require that a legally adequate EIR be prepared on the winery, caves, library, and forest conversion.

Sincerely,


Mike Sandler
Program Coodinator


March 18, 2005

For the Public Record

Ms. Debbie Irvin, Clerk to the Board
State Water Board
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100

Re: Petition submitted by Trout Unlimited and the Peregrine Chapter of the National Audubon Society concerning minimum streamflows

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of Community Clean Water Institute, I am writing in response to a petition submitted by Trout Unlimited and the Peregrine Chapter of the National Audubon Society encouraging the State Water Board's adoption of principles and guidelines for maintaining instream flows for North Coast rivers and streams.

In 2002 and 2003, Community Clean Water Institute worked with numerous watershed groups to raise public awareness to prevent a proposed water diversion which would have infringed on the public trust and set a dangerous precedent whereby public resources are stolen (appropriated without public consent) for private profit. Due to public outcry, and the actions of several elected officials who recognized the threat posed, the applicant, Ric Davidge of Alaska, withdrew the applications. We considered this a victory for the commons. This was a rare example of a positive outcome for the public trust.

However, are we any better off now than then? What if another application came forward, from the numerous aggressive corporations looking to privatize public assets? In the age of Enron and WorldCom, the threats to the public trust have never been greater. Protections must be enhanced, codified in law, and public processes must be used to ensure openness and enforcement. The public trust aspect of Water Law must be adhered to, and corporations should not be given extraordinary rights.

We support the petitioners in encouraging the State Water Board to adopt principles and guidelines for maintaining instream flows in coastal streams and to protect the public trust, including the rights of endangered species such as salmon and steelhead. We agree with the petition in asserting that in order to protect steelhead and coho salmon fisheries and other public trust values, reform of the water rights system is necessary.

We concur with the petition's assessment that the State Water Board and the other State agencies named in the petition have not adopted adequate procedures for coordinated environmental review of water right permit applications and related permit applications. The applications are processed by "rubber stamp." That is why when an outrageous application such as on the Gualala and Albion Rivers by Aqueous Corporation proposed a large scale water export, residents and others were terrified. A rubber stamp for water diversions may have worked in the past, but not in the 21st century.

We concur with the petition's assessment that the State Water Board does not have an adequate procedure for consultation with responsible agencies in the preparation of environmental documents for its action on water right permit applications. Considering endangered steelhead and salmon's struggle with dewatered coastal streams, the Water Board should consult with agencies such as NOAA Fisheries and others. Considering the difficulty of knowing the specific watershed constraints, it is vital to include the County in such decisions. For example, the Sonoma County Permit and Resources Department is responsible for enforcing riparian setbacks in the County General Plan.

Exemptions from environmental review of cumulative impacts for small domestic water uses and stockponds have a negative effect on watersheds. As large-scale industrial vineyards proliferate, dewatering creeks has become commonplace.

We concur with the petition's assessment that the State Water Board does not have adequate guidelines to determine the existing diversions from coastal streams. Landowners have a disincentive to notify the Water Rights division when a creek is dewatered because they fear the creek would be named fully appropriated, and their property value would decline. Complaints are often made by neighbors who are exceptionally committed to the public trust. It is a case of the tragedy of the commons, but it can be mitigated by creating institutions which allow for shared ownership of the commons, and stakeholder communication. For more information on public trust ownership solutions, I recommend the book "Who Owns the Sky" by Peter Barnes.

We concur with the petition's assessment that the State Water Board does not have adequate guidelines to establish water right permit conditions that protect and restore coho and steelhead fisheries in good condition. There should be caveats in water rights to preserve instream flows. Over time, if conditions change, then rights should be modified to preserve the overall ecological integrity of the stream and watershed. Everyone loses when situations of scarcity are brought on by actions taken for short term gain. There should be a hierarchy of actions taken, for example, landscape irrigation efficiency, followed by urban use efficiency (toilets and washing machines), followed by many of the efficiency measures described by the Pacific Institute (www.pacinst.org).

We support the petitioners in encouraging the State Water Board does not take adequate enforcement actions to prevent or correct unauthorized diversions. Community Clean Water Institute has notified the Water Rights division of potentially unlawful water diversions along riparian corridors and creeks which are routinely dewatered by agricultural and landscape irrigation practices which are inappropriate to water scarce areas. We have notified Department of Fish and Game staff who have supported citizens who have complained. However, the Department of Water Rights usually responds by placing the burden of proof on the complainant, and looks for any reason to close investigations before they have begun. In short, there is very little enforcement taken, and a seeming culture of doing the bare minimum to wait out the complaints and hope they just go away, rather than taking enforcement actions.

We concur with the petition's request that the following remedies including:
1) A coordinated response to the petition with the State Water Board acting as lead;
2) Adoption of an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for coordination of the agencies' respective proceedings to approve or condition water diversions and related facilities or activities; and
3) A systematic investigation of central coast streams to identify unauthorized diversions.
4) Adoption of guidelines for the substantive review of water right permit applications that use as a starting point the 2002 guidelines for protection of fish prepared jointly by DFG and the National Marine Fisheries Service;
4) Enforcement actions and the use of enforcement procedures that effectively prevent or
correct unauthorized diversions in the central coast streams; and
5) Adoption of regulations to ensure that small domestic use and livestock stockpond
registrations comply with CEQA.

As Senator Kuehl recommended, an open process to develop these procedures incorporating public and stakeholder comment will result in a positive outcome.

Sincerely,

Mike Sandler
Program Coordinator

CC:

Mr. Richard Roos-Collins
Natural Heritage Foundation
2140 Shattuck Avenue, 5th Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
FAX (510) 644-4428
E-mail: <mailto:rrcollins@n-h-i.org>rrcollins@n-h-i.org

Mr. Charlton H. Bonham
Trout Unlimited
828 San Pablo Avenue, Suite 208
Albany, CA 94706
FAX (510) 528-7880
E-mail: <mailto:cbonham@tu.org>cbonham@tu.org


February 21, 2005

Attn: Regional Water Quality Control Board
Board members William Massey,
Beverly Wasson,
John Corbett,
Gerald Cochran,
Richard Grundy,
Heidi Harris,
Dennis Leonardi,
Clifford Marshall,
Sari Sommastrom

Re: Mixing Zones Policy

I am writing to you on behalf of the Community Clean Water Institute, a citizen action group based in Sonoma County, which has citizen monitors collecting water quality data in rivers and streams throughout Region 1. We are concerned with the Mixing Zone policy, and believe that it would be detrimental to water quality. Mixing zones would negatively impact fisheries, drinking water sources (particularly in the Russian River), and constitute a loophole for dischargers who are not in compliance with the Clean Water Act and California Toxics Rule.

There is an obvious reason for dischargers to lobby for a Mixing Zone policy, but it is unclear how Mixing Zones benefit the public in any way whatsoever. Since it is your duty, as representatives of the public, to protect water quality, it seems clear that the Mixing Zone policy should be rejected, and the CWA and CTR be implemented without loopholes. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mike Sandler
Program Coordinator


Regarding the Russian River Low Flow proposals:

Community Clean Water Institute urges the Sonoma County Water Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board to consider climate change as a factor in the recent petition to reclassify 2004 as a "dry" year, and to develop adaptation measures which take such changes into account. CCWI recommends that SCWA form a Climate Change Task Force which could review flow regimes and expected climate changes in the context of growing demand, and propose adaptation and mitigation measures, and changes to SCWA management procedures, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which cause global climate change. If you support this idea, let the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors know.


March 9, 2004

To: Santa Rosa City Council

Re: Tiger Salamander comments:

In most of my environmental work I tell people that the trade off between economics and the environment is a false choice. It doesn't have to be either/or. You can have both jobs and the environment. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. I believe that if we use our noggins, we can find solutions where we don't need to ruin the environment to make a buck, and where nature and the species don't prevent us from having a strong growing economy which provides for us humans.

CCWI opposes the proposed changes (to the City permit approval process in areas which are potential Tiger Salamander habitat) because they decrease protection for the California Tiger Salamander (CTS) by allowing local approvals to be issued before other federal environmental review processes have been completed. The people and resources of Santa Rosa, including, the CTS, benefit from the most thorough and complete environmental review possible. The regulated community that these changes are designed to benefit are a very small minority of the Santa Rosa constituency, and they should not be benefited at the public's expense.

Also, if the proposed changes do not in fact protect the CTS from take, the City of Santa Rosa will be liable for civil and criminal penalties. The (City staff report) implies that city should not be concerned with the enforcement of state and federal laws. However, the City should respect those laws. The City's support for the endangered species act is not inconsequential, nor irrelevant. The city is part of the permitting process which affects endangered species. The city should work with the permitting agencies, not preemptively make approve projects which could later be reversed by other agencies, which would have negative impacts on the permit applicants.

The City should do more than the bare minimum. Why? Because the City supports the salamander. The council should not give the impression to staff that the city permit is just a rubber stamp, and that the city has no interest in what becomes of the tiger salamander. As forces in Washington try to undermine the federal agencies implementing the endangered species act, the city should rise to support endangered species.

Finally, I do not believe there are many salamanders living at the corner of 4th and Mendocino. The City should start looking vertically for its growth needs. And you will have a small, spotted, slimy constituency which supports that move towards mixed use zoning, infill, and smart growth. They are residents of Santa Rosa too.

Sincerely,

Michael Sandler
Program Coordinator


January 7, 2004

Attn: Santa Rosa City Council, BPU
Cc: Sonoma County Water Agency

Re: Santa Rosa IRWP Master Plan Comments

Dear Councilmembers and Members of the Board of the Public Utilities,

On behalf of Community Clean Water Institute, I would like to submit additional comments regarding Santa Rosa's IRWP Master Plan. At the Board meeting January 6, an employee of Merritt Smith Consulting stated to the Board that with all conservation actions in the State's Best Practices, the maximum offset would be 300 MG. Much more is possible through urban conservation. With a combination of "Waste Not Want Not" and "Hold the Flow" policies, it could be possible to offset all anticipated growth through conservation and efficiency. This is worth further study. The two main reports are: "Waste Not Want Not" by the Pacific Institute, available at www.pacinst.org, and "Hold the Flow" by Pacific Technology Associates (also doing business as Resource Performance Partners) available by contacting www.resourceperform.com.

Comments on Agricultural Reuse- Redwood Plantations East of Rohnert Park

As you may know, several groups have spoken in support of an agricultural reuse component which includes subsurface irrigation of redwoods. In contrast to direct discharge, subsurface irrigation of redwoods makes use of soil microbes and has the potential to provide several economic and environmental benefits to the city.

In addition to the areas adjacent to the Laguna Treatment Plant, East of Rohnert Park is perhaps the first place to consider subsurface redwood irrigation. It is also near Sonoma State University, which has passed a resolution to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. A joint venture with SSU to plant redwood trees irrigated with wastewater as a local solution to global climate change has benefits from all sides.

We recommend a set of criteria for agricultural reuse including low energy use (less pumping, less capital expenditure on miles of pipes into the hills. This would favor the area East of Rohnert Park), greater water retention per acre (favoring redwood tree plantations), keeping rates low for already strained low-income ratepayers, and other environmental and economic criteria.
Below is additional information on the benefits of redwood trees for the IRWP.

Background on Redwood Trees as Wastewater Treatment

A study sponsored by the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma State University has found that a single mature redwood tree transpires 500 gal of water in a day, and as few as nine mature redwood trees can consume as much water as 1 acre of grassland. A plantation of redwoods with the easily supportable density of 200 trees/ac have the transpiration potential of 100 000 gal/ac/d, 2000% higher than the top rate achievable by pasture irrigation. Please note on page 9 of Memorandum 5 on Agricultural Reuse that the total range of annual irrigation volume for vineyards, assuming all reuse was for viticulture would be between 9.3 and 13.7 MG. The minimum value for redwood plantation would be 61 MG, with a maximum of 119 MG, a greater value, which will also carry aesthetic, economic, and environmental benefits.

A side benefit of the subsurface irrigation of redwoods option is the possibility for a real revenue stream in the future for the city, or its subcontractor, via sustainably harvesting the redwood trees. A program which works cooperatively with landowners who are interested to assist them in planting redwoods in exchange for increased flows of recycled water to their property would both increase property values for those landowners, and assist the City in meeting its wastewater recycling needs. A project which collaborates with Sonoma State University which is located in the East Rohnert Park, one of the proposed ag reuse areas, makes perfect sense.

Subsurface irrigation of redwoods also benefits air quality and protects the climate. CCWI has enthusiastically supported the City of Santa Rosa's endorsement of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. The City Council has shown great leadership in pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emission over the next 10 to 20 years. CCWI would like to emphasize the importance of considering the impacts to climate change of the alternatives proposed. In many cases, the option with the fewest greenhouse gas emissions will most likely be the most efficient from a cost perspective as well. Subsurface irrigation of redwoods can result in "carbon sequestration," taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, resulting in carbon credits, and taking Santa Rosa and the other cities which are also part of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign closer to their stated goals of reducing their impact on the climate.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Michael Sandler
Program Coordinator


October 16, 2003

Mr. Michael Contreras
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA 95812-2000

RE: 363:MC:262.0(49-14-07)
Dear Mr. Contreras:

This is a follow up with evidence to my letter faxed to your office on October 2, 2003. There are three points to my original complaint that have not been adequately addressed by Mr. Miller's submittal of a Small Domestic Use Registration. First, my complaint cannot be closed or fully addressed until a legal right is granted to Mr. Miller for the non-riparian use of water upon his Joy Road property. Second is the issue of interrupting flow on the perennial headwater stream of Salmon Creek. The third regards the appropriateness of a Small Domestic Use Registration in this case.

Towards the latter issue, observe Attachment A. This is a permit history of parcel 073-250-028, the Joy Road property. The only building permitted on this parcel is a garage/storage building. The parcel sits on solid Serpentine rock with inadequate percolation, so a septic system was not approved. Therefore, no house or habitation is allowed on the property either. 3440 Joy Rd. is a garage with office space and no plumbing. Please refer to Attachment B for visual evidence. If no one lives there, there are no "domestic uses" to apply for. Although the California Water Code allows use for a ½ acre of lawn and garden, these are incidental, not independent, of domestic use. Only Domestic and incidental lawn, garden, and animal uses qualify for a Small Domestic Use Registration. This would mean a home or household and any subsequent and secondary uses associated with a home. Mr. Miller's property is not a home, so does not qualify for the Small Domestic Use Registration.

A Small Domestic Use Registration allows for no more than 4500 gallons per day. How is this volume to be measured? The diversion occasionally interrupts flow in the creek during late summer. This leads to reasonable suspicion that either the stream drops to extremely low flows, or Mr. Miller may be extracting more than 4500 gallons in a day. Both scenarios are a concern, and should be addressed prior to granting a right. If the creek reaches such low flow, how will the Water Rights Division protect fish and wildlife, riparian users, and senior appropriative users when Mr. Miller turns his pumps on in late summer? Please refer to Attachment C for evidence of previous instances where legal users' water shortages were ignored by Mr. Miller. Attachment C was a complaint filed with your office by Town Hall Coalition in 1999. A tenant of Mr. Miller's also put in a complaint in October of 2001 to the Permit and Resources Department over water shortage, (Attachment D #VWS01-0163). In terms of the volume of water in this stretch of Salmon Creek, Community Clean Water Institute volunteers found the flow at this site to be 0.34 ft³/second in early June, and 0.22 ft³/second in early July of this year. In early August 2002, a slightly drier water year, the flow was 0.08 ft³/second.

I have included chronological photographs of Salmon Creek's flow fluctuating from September 21 through October 2 of this year. The photographs were taken on the downstream side of the Bittner Road Bridge, where Community Clean Water Institute has a water quality and flow monitoring site. The diversion is located on the other side of this bridge, with the natural flow traveling over the cement bottom of the bridge. The flow disruption and pool shrinkage documented corresponds with times of heavy pump use by Mr. Miller.

If the evidence thus far presented is inadequate, please inform me as to what else is required. There is a neighbor and Riparian user willing to discuss further details and share more evidence with you on condition of anonymity. Please contact me with questions.

Sincerely,
Sarah Shaeffer
Program Associate

 


April 5, 2002

To: Janice Hutton, Permitting Coordinator at Airfield Development
Bureau.

Re: SFO expansion options

Dear Ms. Hutton,

As you are aware, many environmental groups are concerned with the
proposed expansion of SFO, and the proposal to fill a significant area
of San Francisco Bay to accommodate that expansion. After reading a
recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, I felt compelled to share with
you my feelings about the proposal.

Filling the Bay for an additional runway is akin to widening freeways.
It provides a short term solution, but also causes long-term problems.
In the case of freeways, the long term problems are sprawl, smog, and
global climate change, which all result in lowered quality of life. In
the case of an additional runway, the long term problems will be
ecological, social, and economic: a smaller San Francisco Bay which has
both ecological and social impacts, and an increased debt burden in the
scenario that air travel remains declined in a post-9-11 world. Short
term approaches which leave more problems, such as freeway widening or
filling the Bay, are increasingly considered bad planning. There are
more elegant solutions, often described in terms of "smart growth."

Here is an alternative which would fit the category of "smart growth":
Use SFO's financial clout and prestige to develop cooperative agreements with other regional airports. With a more efficient cooperative arrangement, the money used to fill the bay could be wisely used to connect the airports and provide the additional capacity that SFO needs without the ecological ramifications. This solution also follows a designer's ethic of using what you have, but using it smarter, similar to raising fuel efficiency instead of drilling the Arctic Refuge. The downside, from an economic perspective, is that it does not allow SFO to borrow a billion dollars, or get the federal grants to increase its budget. From an empire building perspective, coordination and networking is second best to straight ahead growth. But as you can see from the environmental concerns raised, from the energy crisis to freeways to airport runways to water, networking is the strategy of the 21st century which most closely resembles sustainable development.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Michael Sandler
Program Coordinator- Community Clean Water Institute

Cc: Steve Moore, Chief of Planning, San Francisco Bay Regional Water
Quality Control Board; Editor, San Francisco Chronicle;
stopsfo@protectourbay.com;


Ida Clayton Road- Water Right Complaint

The following letter was sent by CCWI to multiple permitting and regulatory agencies on April 10, 2002. CCWI also filed a formal complaint with the State Department of Water Rights.

It has come to the attention Community Clean Water Institute that an 85 acre-foot pond had been installed at Peter Michael Winery/Sugar Loaf Farming on 12400 Ida Clayton Road Knight's Valley, CA 94515. The application for a permit to divert water from a local stream to fill of this pond has been challenged by Trout Unlimited, USFWS, NMFS, Beringer Winery Estate, and California Sports Protection Alliance. These groups, and local residents are concerned about impacts of water takes on fish and wildlife, including endangered salmon along Rattlesnake and Kellogg Creek which are tributaries to the Russian River.

It is our understanding that a permit was applied for by Peter Michael Winery/Sugar Loaf Farming to the California Department of Water Resources' Water Rights Division to fill the 85 acre-foot pond (Application #030745 filed August 7th, 1998). As of today, the permit is still under review, and has not been approved. In the meantime, citizens neighboring the pond have reported that the pond is being filled at night, despite the lack of a permit to do so.

The Winery's expectation of a rubberstamped permit has apparently led them to believe they may take water from this watershed in advance of the permitting agency's approval. This undermines the permitting process, and the authority of permitting agencies to review and make water allocation decisions on a case by case basis according to the public interest. When similar complaints have been filed in the past, the California Department of Fish & Game has responded to the effect that "this happens all the time," confirming that more investigations are needed, and that enforcement is required when violations are found.

Community Clean Water Institute has filed a formal complaint on behalf of local citizens with the Cal. Department of Water Resources and urges all interested parties to undertake an investigation into this unpermitted taking of water by Peter Michael Winery/Sugar Loaf Farming. Permitting agencies are urged to inspect before approving permits for water takes, especially when endangered species such as salmon are involved. Regulatory agencies are urged to enforce laws requiring permits before taking water, which appears to be the case when a pond is filled while permits are still in process.


Vine Hill School Road- Groundwater Testing

CCWI was contacted in September, 2001, by a group of concerned homeowners in the Vine Hill School Road Area of Sonoma County. Homeowners were concerned about pesticide use from a nearby vineyard, and the impact on groundwater quality. CCWI collected sample data, a list of pesticides used in the area from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, and consulted with CCWI technical advisors. Upon the advice from technical advisors, and upon the request of the homeowner's group, CCWI conducted groundwater testing at a homeowner's well in an area which was considered representative of the area. With the help of Analytical Sciences, based in Petaluma, CA, CCWI oversaw testing for Organochlorine, Organophosphorus, and Organonitrogen chemicals (EPA Method 8081, persistent organochlorine pesticides; EPA Method 8141, organonitrogen/organophosphorus herbicides and pesticides). Results came up negative for the pesticides tested for.


Porter Creek: Gallo Incorportated- Erosion Complaint

In December 2001, Community Clean Water Institute (CCWI), received water quality complaints of contamination and destruction of fish spawning grounds in Porter Creek, near Healdsburg, California, due to industrial vineyard development by Gallo Incorporated. Observers reported massive grading activity, forest conversions, faulty temporary stream crossings, and contouring of hills, which appeared to have caused severe erosion of hillsides, destruction of fish spawning grounds, siltation and sedimentation of the waters of the once pristine Porter Creek. According to recent studies, Porter Creek has been a spawning stream full of steelhead fish and clean pure water.

According to County records, Gallo Incorporated recently converted redwood forest and grazing land to industrial vineyards at the old Fred McMurry Ranch on Westside Road in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California.

CCWI conducted research into the area. The redwood forest region in Northern Sonoma County normally receives between 70-90 inches of annual rainfall. The autumn rains in October and November, 2001 arrived shortly after intensive grading, stream alterations and removal of forest and vegetation on hundreds of acres causing landslides, erosion and contamination of the water of Porter Creek. Downstream residents of the creek expressed concern about the potential long-term impacts to their land caused by clogged culverts, changes in watercourses and the availability of water next year.

Upon consultation with CCWI Board of Directors, CCWI filed a complaint with National Marine Fisheries, California Department of Fish and Game, California Water Quality Control Board, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner and the Sonoma County Planning Department regarding the contamination of Porter Creek and possible violations of federal, state, and local regulations which make it illegal to destroy water quality, fish spawning grounds and habitat for endangered species.


Dutra Haystack Landing Asphalt Plant Final EIR.

August 6th, 2008


Attn; Steve Padovan
Sonoma County's Permit and Resource Dept.
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, California 95403

Subject: Dutra Haystack Landing Asphalt Plant Final EIR.

Dear Sonoma County's Permit and Resource Dept,

On behalf of Community Clean Water Institute, a citizen action organization based in Sonoma County, California, I would like to provide comments on the Dutra Haystack Landing Asphalt Plant Final EIR.

As strong appreciators of our county's impressive biological diversity, we at CCWI urge you to oppose the construction of the Dutra Haystack Landing Asphalt Plant at the proposed site, located right across the river from Petaluma's Shollenberger Park.

Shollenberger Park is an important place in our area for both wildlife, especially birds, and people. There has been a steady increase in visitors to this park since its opening in 1995, which is due to its beautiful river trail access for walkers and joggers, its abundance of local bird species, and the uplifting marsh restoration work occurring there.

An asphalt plant built so near the park will result in an increase in noise pollution, as well as annoying lights and smells. These changes will lower the quality of experience for people visiting the park, and may adversely affect the quality of habitat for local wildlife. Not to mention that the actual proposed site would be replacing land where egrets and herons often nest.

The rate of development in Sonoma County is nothing short of alarming, and we cannot afford to allow the degradation of our last remaining protected lands. It's extremely important that we keep our parks healthy and scenic, for there won't be much incentive to keep these areas protected and funded if people aren't visiting them.

Please consider other, more appropriate and less damaging sites on the river, such as Pomeroy's now vacant, pre-stressed concrete fabrication site on Hopper St., zoned "river-dependent industrial."


Sincerely,
Terrance Fleming
Program Coodinator


Review of the 2006 Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary.

September 17, 2008

Jeanine Townsend
Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street. 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: Review of the 2006 Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary.

Dear State Water Resources Control Board,

When reviewing the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary, please consider an approach that is sustainable to both the economy, and to the Delta's ecosystem. The Delta's native fish populations are rapidly declining, and the dated levees which protect the islands of the delta are becoming more and more prone to failure. The severity of these changes, and the speed at which they are occurring, shows that policy makers must act quickly with a plan that responds to our concerns about fish stocks, as well as our state's drinking water supplies.

Five of the delta's fish species experiencing population loss are listed as endangered or threatened, this includes the federally and state listed Delta Smelt. A federal court's concern for these declines resulted in a reduction of water exports from the delta. This is a problem when two thirds of California's households receive drinking water from this system, and when the agriculture industry of the Central Valley is largely dependent on imports from the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary.

Improving the current levee system, as well as making it more resilient to potential earthquakes will be expensive, and through-Delta pumping will continue to result in an unstable environment for local wildlife. A peripheral canal, which would divert water from the Sacramento River to a route that borders the delta, would allow for more effective management of flow and salinity levels. California residents would spend less money on water treatment costs, and more water would be available to agriculture because of diminished salinity levels in the delta. These changes, along with allowing the biologically less productive islands to flood, would provide more habitat variation for the Delta's biodiversity.

Further reduction of Delta water exports to the Central Valley and to Southern California may be best for fish populations, but it certainly would be crippling to our economy. A peripheral canal may still leave room for some undesired changes in the Delta habitats; they still far out number the detrimental effects of through-Delta pumping and a dual conveyance system. A peripheral canal would also be less costly to the economy and would still allow for exports. The money saved and gained could be used to support restoration and conservation efforts in the delta.

This plan will only be successful if it is actively monitored and regulated by a government agency. This agency must be proactive, and must be financially prepared to react to changes in the Delta. Again, the lowered costs of this project, as well as the continuation of water exports, will help with the funding of this regulatory agency.

Sincerely,

Terrance Fleming
Program Coordinator



Pesticide Spray on Highway 1.

October 21, 2008

Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Dr. Room 100A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Main Office (707) 565-2241
Petaluma Office (707) 778-7578
FAX (707) 565-3778

Attn: Mike Kerns

Dear Mike Kerns,

On October 10th, 2008 Community Clean Water Institute (CCWI) received a complaint from a resident of Petaluma about a herbicide spray that had recently occurred from where Highway 1 meets Bodega Highway, all the way into Petaluma and ends where the residential housing starts. This is about a twenty mile stretch, and it is sprayed on both sides.

Sent with this letter are photos that were taken of willow trees, and other vegetation along the road side, that were affected by the pesticides. As you can see from the photos, the vegetation killed from this spray are desirable species (most of which seem to be Willows) and this type of land/road management is concerning to local residents.

CCWI is also concerned about releasing such a high quantity of chemicals into our environment so close to fall and winter rains. When rain does come, some of the remaining chemicals may seep into groundwater sources, and the rest will runoff the hard gravel surface into the closest waterway.

If vegetation along a road needs to be cut back, can't we do just that? Our County's streams and groundwater supplies are experiencing low levels, and we can't afford to allow for the remaining water to be polluted, especially if there are alternative methods of managing land.

Thanks for your time and please consider these suggestions when managing and developing Sonoma County's land.

Respectfully,
Terrance Fleming
Community Clean Water Institute


Comments on Draft Grading, Drainage and Vineyard and Orchard Site
Development Ordinance


September 25, 2008

Jeanine Townsend
Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street. 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Comments on Draft Grading, Drainage and Vineyard and Orchard Site
Development Ordinance

Dear State Water Resources Control Board,

Part of our mission here at Community Clean Water Institute (CCWI) is to protect water resources and public health, and to prevent water pollution throughout Northern California. CCWI collects and analyzes water quality data, engages in education and community outreach activities, and shares information with government regulatory agencies and the public. We are concerned about the brevity of the public comment period for such a comprehensive 135 page document which amends several parts of the County Code, and request that the comment period be extended to 30 days so that the interested public and various agencies have time to research the changes and articulate their responses.
Since CCWI is concerned with protecting the functioning of our watersheds, for both environmental and public health reasons, we are concerned that any project which affects water quality have proper oversight. We are also alarmed by the way in which the draft changes reduce existing environmental protections, for example building and zoning permitting processes use a different definition of stream than those offered by Porter Cologne, the Forest Practices Act, and the federal Clean Water Act.
Vineyard and orchard development that involves grading and drainage can have serious effects on local water sources. Grading on steep slopes can cause an increase nutrient runoff, turbidity of surface waters as well as sediment clogging the coarse gravels needed for brooding salmonid eggs.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) needs to be included in this ordinance for it allows informed individuals and agencies to be included in the permit process. The public must be able to have a say in developments which might affect the health of their watersheds, and in turn, possibly their health. Please consider these implications when drafting this ordinance.

Sincerely,
Kandis Gilmore
Terrance Fleming
Community Clean Water Institute


AB 885 Onsite Wastewater Systems Program


Mr. Todd Thompson P.E.
Division of Water Quality
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
1001 I St.
PO Box 2231
Sacramento, CA 95812

RE: AB 885 Onsite Wastewater Systems Program

Dear Mr. Thompson,

On behalf of Community Clean Water Institute, a citizen action organization based in Sonoma County, California, I would like to provide comments on the proposed adoption and implementation of Assembly Bill 885.

While CCWI acknowledges the benefits of adopting a statewide system of minimum regulations and enforcement aimed at decreasing pollution caused by septic tanks, the potential costs for property owners to meet these minimum requirements are excessive. We feel a Statewide assistance program that helped offset these costs would be most desirable but potentially difficult to implement with California's current economy.

We support proactive regulations and know that they are needed to protect our waterways, especially if the waterway is considered impaired. In Dutch Bill Creek, a stream CCWI recommended to be added to the 303 (d) list, we have found on multiple occasions levels of bacteria that are far above drinking and recreation guidelines offered by the California Department of Health Services.

Data like this reveal that a No-Project Alternative should not be adopted by the State of California and measures need to be taken to lessen potential sources of pollution along our streams. CCWI does not support the Matrix Alternative because it aims at lowering OWTS density which will not produce the results we want for many homes with septic tanks are already in low density areas. The Environmentally Superior Alternative also seems to miss the goal we have as a state of trying to limit pollution in our waterways and may require financial assistance by the State as well.

The regulations and conditional waiver proposed by AB 885 appears to be the most effective way of reducing pollution statewide. Having "minimum requirements for OWTS installation, operation, and maintenance throughout the state" will reduce pollution incidents, even without knowing the exact sources of this pollution. Also, having qualified professionals perform septic tank inspections, site assessments, and the construction of new OWTS will help ensure that these systems are working as efficiently as possible.

These inspections and installations can be costly especially in the case when a septic tank is located within 600 feet of an impaired waterway and is found to be contributing pollutants. Under the regulations proposed by AB 885, it could cost the owner up to $45,000 to have the system retrofitted with supplemental treatments. Asking rural landowners to pay these amounts is not realistic when most are enduring the effects of a struggling economy.

CCWI suggests that California provide financial assistance programs and financial incentives for landowners who have to modify their OWTS. Loan programs, not unlike those proposed in AB 811, that end up being repaid through property tax increases are an option, while offering property tax cuts for individuals who pay these installation and maintenance fees are another. The options could be accompanied by a financial assistance trust that receives funds from related lawsuit settlements and paid fines and then distributes these funds to those with polluting OWTS.

We encourage a revision of AB 885 to include financial assistance programs and incentives that allow landowners to meet the installation, operation, and maintenance demands of this proposed project.


2008 Integrated Report for the 305(b) Surface Water Assessment and 303(d) List of Impaired Waters

March 20th, 2009


North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Blvd
Santa Rosa, CA
95403

Subject: 2008 Integrated Report for the 305(b) Surface Water Assessment and 303(d) List of Impaired Waters.

Dear NCRWQCB,

The proposed 2008 303 (d) list of impaired water bodies has the Russian River watershed, including Mark West Creek, to have a completed TMDL for temperature by 2019. Community Clean Water Institute feels Mark West Creek needs to become a higher priority in this listing because of its significant contribution to our drinking water source, its suitability as spawning habitat for listed salmon, and the severity of its impairment. We are requesting that a TMDL for this watershed be prepared by no later than 2011.

This watershed is a significant contributor to the drinking water supply of Sonoma and Marin County. MWC is also important habitat to federally threatened Steelhead trout and federally endangered Coho Salmon, whose populations are being adversely affected by increased sediment and elevated water temperatures.

A concerned resident who lives along Mark West Creek recently witnessed a small but exciting population of Steelhead, and even a few Coho salmon. These populations were then reported to suffer a 100 percent mortality rate and this die-off is believed to be related to lack of water and the resulting increased water temperatures.

This past summer and fall (2008), other residents along Mark West Creek reported that flow of this stream was the lowest they've seen in at least a decade. Residents have also recently witnessed stretches of this creek go completely dry, something many of them don't remember ever happening. In the past, some of these pools would remain deep enough even during the dry months for recreational use. In fall of 2008 many of them were nothing more than dry beds of rock and sand, with occasional small stagnant puddles.

A study we conducted during the summer and fall months of 2008 on flow levels of upper MWC support these observations, which we are including with this comment.

There has been a great deal of public concern regarding existing and proposed vineyard developments along Mark West Creek, and their effects on both water quality and water quantity. Strong and organized public outcry was able to temporarily halt a construction proposal by Henry Cornell vineyards.

Henry Cornell has been attempting to acquire permits to construct a large scale winery along MWC and there is worry that this development could further deplete the already overused aquifer. There have been reports of an existing vineyard called Pride already over drafting wells and is now trucking 25,000 gallons from a day from MWC for irrigation.

It's evident that the pumping of groundwater and diversion of stream water by vineyards, along with current draught conditions, is resulting in low stream flow in MWC, to the point where this perennial stream is drying up.

Vineyards have also been accused of grading on steep slopes and causing landslides in MWC. This increased sediment is causing the siltation of important salmonid habitat pools. These vineyard developments are also replacing riparian vegetation and ridge top forest cover which leads to increased runoff and poor recharge of the watershed. Loss of canopy cover in the riparian zone, along with low stream flow and depth levels, is creating elevated water temperatures and fish are dying.

The urgency of this matter hasn't gone unnoticed. The Mark West Creek watershed has been deemed a Priority Conservation Area by the San Francisco Bay area joint agency coalition FOCUS because of its decreasing instream flows and degraded water quality.

At the rate water-loss in Mark West Creek is occurring, and the rate salmon populations and habitat are disappearing, this important source of drinking water and salmonid spawning ground may be dry and lifeless by 2019. This watershed currently needs as much protection as possible, as soon as possible, and so we ask that the Regional Board makes Mark West Creek a higher priority in the 2008 list of impaired waterways.

Sincerely,

Terrance Fleming
Kandis Gilmore
Community Clean Water Institute


Bohemia Ranch

Dear Sonoma County Open Space District,

Community Clean Water Institute (CCWI) is a 501 C3 community based organization dedicated to promoting and protecting clean water and pubic health by identifying water pollution, advocating for sound water policies, and providing information to the public. Since 2002, we have been actively monitoring Dutch Bill Creek and its tributaries, including Duvoul Creek.

Dutch Bill Creek is a north-flowing stream in the hills of western Sonoma County, California which empties into the Russian River at Monte Rio about 7 mi (11 km) from the Pacific Ocean. Dutch Bill Creek parallels the Bohemian Highway from the town of Occidental to Monte Rio. It originates just north of Occidental and descends to the north. Lancel Creek enters from the east just south of the town of Camp Meeker. Dutch Bill Creek continues through Camp Meeker, where it turns to the northwest, receiving the outflow of Baumert Springs. Alder Creek, Grub Creek, and Duvoul Creek enter from the right. Then the creek flows through Westminster Woods before feeding into the Russian River at Monte Rio, just west of Bohemian Grove.

CCWI has received funding for our water monitoring program from the Sonoma County Water Agency and Sonoma County Fish and Wildlife Commission. The entire watershed, springs and headwaters for Duvoul and Grub creeks, important tributaries to Dutch Bill Creek, are located within the boundaries of the privately held Bohemia Ranch property. Bohemia Ranchland is approximately 17% of the entire Dutch Bill Creek watershed.

Access to Duvoul for water quality and quantity monitoring as recently become difficult. We're currently in the process of testing the flow of Grub creek and will have data showing Grub creeks' current water supply contribution to Dutch Bill Creek soon. Still, there is no question about how critical these streams are to maintaining the flow of Dutch Bill Creek.

Dutch Bill Creek and several of its tributaries supply water for domestic wells and support steelhead trout and wild coho salmon, which have been observed spawning in the creek. Coho salmon are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and steelhead are listed as threatened.

Since 2002 Dutch Bill Creek has been part of the Coho captive broodstock program managed by the University of California and the CA Dept. of Fish and Game. Since 2006 juvenile coho have been released in DBC as a part of this program.

Over the past seven years significant public resources have been expended for restoration on Dutch Bill Creek. The Dutch Bill Creek Watershed Council, the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, the Watershed Institute at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Westminster Woods, and the Goldridge Resource Conservation District have supplied leadership in implementing restoration activities on the creek. The Sonoma County Water Agency, CA Dept. of Fish and Game, NOAA Fisheries, and the University of California have been actively engaged in restoration on Dutch Bill Creek. Many other organizations, including CCWI, are also involved and are supporting the restoration work on the creek.

The Sonoma County Open Space District tried to buy the Bohemia Ranch (Waterfall Park) 9 years ago and the deal fell apart. We understand that the owner is now willing to sell the ranch to the Sonoma County Open Space District and provide an endowment to help cover the costs of keeping it as a wild, relatively undeveloped park. In addition, there is a great opportunity to sell carbon credits from the rapidly growing commercial timberland on the property to help cover the costs of the park stewardship.

Over the past 8 years extensive clean-up and restoration work has occurred
on the ranch. All debris has been removed, roads re-graded and resurfaced,
new roads developed, numerous erosion sites repaired, extensive biologic
evaluation and documentation accomplished, and many new water sources
developed.

A conservation easement on the ranch is held by the Sonoma Land Trust, but
the possibility of subdivision into six separate home sites still exists on
the ranch. The lots are currently for sale and any residential, vineyard, agricultural, water diversions or other development would negatively impact the watershed and the quantity and quality of water flowing into Dutch Bill Creek.

The property is 862 acres, with about 400 acres in fir forest with some
redwoods. The forest has an approved Nonindustrial Timber Management Plan in
place, which means that it can be commercially harvested without additional
approvals. As a result of quantifying this timber resource a great
opportunity exists to sell carbon credits to raise funds for supporting the
proposed park while simultaneously preventing any further cutting of trees.

Bohemia Ranch will make a wonderful park - its all ready to go, with a
developed campground site already in place and good alternatives for
providing stewardship funding. The campsite, on a ridge with great views,
is served by a new road and includes 4 little cabins, a fire ring, outdoor
showers, privy, a proven septic field, and a developed water source.

Please start the process to investigate the possibility of purchasing this critically important property to protect the forest, endangered species, water and watershed forever.

Sincerely Yours,
Lynn Hamilton
Administrator
Terrance Fleming
Program Director
Community Clean Water Institute



Preservation Ranch


David Schiltgen
Permit and Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403-2829

Subject: Preservation Ranch.

Dear David Schiltgen,

Community Clean Water Institute requests that the Permit and Resource Management Department consider these comments and questions during the preliminary review process of Preservation Ranch.

CCWI is deeply worried about how the proposed 1800 plus acre "sustainable" vineyard will impact water supply of the Gualala River Watershed. This project, operated by Premier Pacific Vineyards (PPV), would become the largest forest-to-vineyard conversion ever proposed in California coastal forestlands. Is another vineyard of this scale and development really what we need with the draught conditions and "water crisis" we're currently in the middle of?

This vineyard conversion will include the filling and grading of approximately 363 Class III stream segments (total length 10.53 miles). Class III streams are defined as waterways with no aquatic life present and drainage areas at specific sites. We want to stress that these streams are still important water supply contributors to Class I and Class II streams, which do include wildlife, and possibly even endangered salmonid species. Jut because a waterway hasn't been identified as habitat for aquatic life doesn't mean it's not important to the watershed or a salmonid life cycle.

Approximately 40 new 10 to 49 acre-foot reservoirs within or adjacent to the proposed vineyards will also be a part of this project. PPV mention that reservoirs will be filled using only sheet flow. No groundwater and no creek water will be used. What happens in years like this year and last year when there is little rain and the reservoirs potentially do not fill? How is PPV going to meet the water supply demands needed for frost protection?

They estimate requiring 0.5 ac-ft per year (standard estimate). We can assume that we won't see any run off with first 13 inches of rain as the soil is just getting saturated. After that then a certain percentage runs off. During dry years it would be potentially difficult to fill the reservoirs and the percentage diverted from streams could be potentially significant especially in sub watersheds of higher vineyard density.

We'd also like to remind PPV that rainfall patterns are not consistent across the property. Areas to the East such as Bear Ridge, which is the biggest vineyard block of all is farthest to the east, may receive much less rainfall and would be harder pressed to meet the irrigation requirements. Especially since irrigation requirements may be higher in this area because of higher growing season temperatures, and potentially thinner soils. CCWI demands that the project give up all groundwater and riparian rights if they want to consider planting! This is the only way the creeks on Preservation ranch are guaranteed protection in case of drought.

CCWI thinks that it's important for PRMD to question PPV's experience with, and devotion to, "sustainable" farming practices. The word "sustainable" is such an easy word for companies to throw around and unless it's supported by methods and goals that truly respect that the local environment, it can mean nothing. The preliminary report does describe farming practices that are considered "sustainable" but who will oversee PPV's work and make sure that its continued after initial implementation? Who will be around to enforce these practices? It's much easier to explain in a report the "sustainable" work you plan on doing than to actually carry it out.

Has PPV ever been involved with "sustainable" agriculture before? All I could fin on their website is Premier Pacific will strive not merely to meet guidelines set out by various regulatory bodies, but to be an industry leader in environmental responsibility. Is this saying they aren't licensed organic, or biodynamic, or aren't considered "sustainable" by any agency? If a company is performing "sustainable" work, or has a crop that meets the requirements to be labeled organic
wouldn't they pursue this certification or acknowledgement? How has PPV been an industry leader in environmental responsibility? We want to see PPV's resume and have it support these claims before they head the biggest forest to vineyard conversion in our area!

Our last concern is regarding how these "sustainable" vineyards will finance the restoration and conservation of surrounding natural lands. Are vineyards really necessary for these changes and mandates to happen? Wouldn't a conservation easement be enough for this to happen? Once again, is another vineyard of this scale and development really what we need with the draught conditions and "water crisis" we're currently in the middle of?

We are worried that PPV could be just trying a different avenue to get another vineyard planted. An avenue where the popular buzz word "sustainable" is used to please the public and regulatory agencies? Will PPV really apply these complex and dynamic practices? Will they really be responsible with their water use and will they really protect water quality of the Gualala watershed? If their plan to use reservoirs doesn't work will they just divert the streams and pump the aquifers dry? Do they have a resume that suggests they wouldn't?

CCWI respectfully requests that PRMD closely examine these questions and that they are considered throughout the entire CEQA process.

Respectfully,

Terrance Fleming
Program Director
Community Clean Water Institute




 

 

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