William Massey, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
We have promised it for years, and it is finally here. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has just released its draft assessment and strategy to address water quality issues in the Russian River watershed.
The Russian River Watershed, from the headwaters north of Cloverdale to the mouth at Jenner, is a jewel of the North Coast Region, supporting a rich diversity of urban and rural values including family-friendly communities; outdoor recreation; renowned restaurants, wineries, and vacation opportunities; and economic opportunities ranging from farming to high tech.
The Regional Water Board strategy, called a total maximum daily load Action Plan (TMDL Action Plan), specifically focuses on ways to protect those who recreate in the Russian River Watershed by identifying and controlling all sources of insufficiently treated human and domestic animal waste from entering the water. The Regional Water Board already implements a prohibition against the direct discharge of waste to the Russian River during the summer months. But, the draft TMDL Action Plan augments the existing approach with potential solutions for controlling indirect discharges of waste, as well storm induced discharges that occur during the rainy season.
What is the Problem?
Water quality monitoring from the Russian River and its tributary creeks reflect widespread contamination with bacteria and other indicators of human and animal waste, which pose a potential threat to the health of the river ecosystem and the people who visit it. Bacteria can indicate the presence of pathogenic organisms that are found in warm-blooded animal waste. Data assessed by Regional Water Board staff show that some locations within the watershed have bacteria concentrations that indicate the potential presence of pathogens at levels that are higher than is safe for water contact recreation.
Read more at: Restoring the Russian River Water Quality