Reasons for Exemption
The proposed action is statutorily exempt under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Statute 21080(b)(4), which provides that specific actions necessary to prevent or mitigate an emergency are exempt from CEQA; categorically exempt from CEQA under the State CEQA Guidelines Section 15301(b)(f); and under Section 6b of Governor's April 21, 2021, emergency drought proclamation for the Russian River Watershed.
On March 5, 2021, the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture designated 50 California counties, including Sonoma County, as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. This Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency. On April 21, 2021, Governor Newsom issued a Proclamation of a State of Emergency in Sonoma and Mendocino counties due to drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed (Governor's Drought Proclamation). The Governor has continued that proclamation for Sonoma and Mendocino counties through further drought proclamations on May 10, July 8, and October 19, 2021. On April 27, 2021, the Board of Supervisors for the County of Sonoma proclaimed a local emergency for the Sonoma County Operational Area due to drought conditions, which was most recently continued on March 1, 2022. On June 16, 2021, the General Manager of Sonoma Water determined that due to drought conditions, an emergency exists that poses a clear and imminent danger, requiring immediate action to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, property, or essential public services, necessitating immediate action pursuant to the authority of the County of Sonoma Resolution #06-0649. On June 18, 2021, the Sonoma Water Board of Directors adopted a resolution ratifying the General Manager’s emergency determination and declaring the need to do emergency work related to drought and that such projects are exempt for the requirements of CEQA. The Board of Directors has since continuously renewed the emergency determination every two weeks.
Sonoma Water staff are proposing work necessary to bring an existing groundwater well at the Sebastopol Road Well Station into operation and to increase regional and community drought resiliency. CEQA Guidelines Section 15301 provides, generally, that the operation of existing facilities involving negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency's determination is categorically exempt from CEQA. Item b exempts existing facilities, including public utility services. Item f, specifies that health protection devices for use in existing facilities are exempt under CEQA. The proposed project would add chlorination to provide safe potable water that meets chlorine contact time regulatory requirements.