NOTICE: State Water Board proposes new drought emergency regulation for Russian River watershed

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

With California experiencing a third consecutive year of drought, the State Water Resources Control Board released a draft emergency regulation today that would authorize staff to continue curtailing water rights in the Russian River watershed. The current regulation, adopted in June 2021, expires in July 2022.

The Division of Water Rights will hold a public workshop on April 14 to discuss the draft regulation, answer questions and receive comments. Public input on the draft will be accepted until noon on April 18, after which a revised draft will be released again for final comments before being considered for adoption by the State Water Board on May 10.

The draft regulation released today modifies various aspects of the current regulation. It clarifies requirements, refines analyses and addresses stakeholder feedback received during the past year to include all of the following:

  • A refined water availability method that better reflects the hydrologic processes  and supply situation in the watershed
  • The protection of water supply for fish habitat in Lower Russian River tributaries
  • A voluntary conservation program
  • Administrative improvements of curtailments and exceptions

Exceptionally low precipitation since the beginning of the year has led to extreme drought in the Russian River watershed causing reservoir levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma to fall to about 40 percent below average. With dry conditions expected to persist, curtailments are an effective means of protecting drinking water supplies and fish and wildlife habitat.

If the board adopts the regulation on May 10, the regulation will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for approval. The approval process takes approximately two weeks.

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