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A view of the Russian River looking towards Guerneville.
photo credit: Flicker/Nick Doty

A current regulation that curtails water rights in the Russian River watershed is set to expire in July.  But that may be extended due to the continuing drought.

State Water Resources Control Board officials have released a draft emergency regulation to extend the curtailments and clarify some of its requirements.

The Division of Water Rights will hold a public workshop 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 board on May 10.
The draft includes various modifications, according to the news release, including 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; and administrative improvements of curtailments and exceptions.
Agency officials say exceptionally low precipitation since the beginning of the year has led to extreme drought in the Russian River watershed...That's caused reservoir levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma to fall to about 40 percent below average. With dry conditions expected to persist, officials said curtailments are an effective means of protecting drinking water supplies and fish and wildlife habitat.
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