Willow Creek, one of the Russian River's last tributaries is a series of disconnected puddles
photo credit: (Credit: Marc Albert/KRCB)
Despite a week-old curtailment order, water levels in the upper Russian River remain stubbornly low. KRCB's Marc Albert reports.
Since the end of July, operators of the Coyote Valley Dam at Lake Mendocino have sent 115 cubic feet per second down the Russian River. By the time the river reaches Healdsburg, barely 20 percent of the water remains.
Asked about the data, Robert Cervantes, who's responsible for water rights enforcement for the state water board, said, "Those measurements are interesting to hear and it is something we will likely look into in the near future."
According to SonomaWater officials, it takes six days for water released from the dam to reach the measuring point. Cervantes said parched soil may be contributing. "It's not uncommon to have system losses. It is a long ways from Lake Mendocino to Healdsburg, to that gauge, but those losses do seem, I don't know, perhaps uncharacteristic."
Stream flows at Healdsburg have risen from 26 to 32 cubic feet per second since diversions were curtailed.
Officials are scheduling inspections, and hope compliance with the curtailment order will allow them to keep more water in Lake Mendocino, but there are limits, "We have, right now, about 25 staff for the entire state. We are on-boarding an additional 10 or so, they have not yet started."
The agency, which investigates mainly on the basis of complaints from the public, can take anywhere from days or months to process a potential violation.
Water rights program manager Sam Boland-Brien says everyone must save water, not just for this summer and fall, but in case dry conditions linger.
"Conservation everywhere is going to be critical this summer, especially if drought conditions persist into 2022, which is the really big worry, nothing left for next year."