Petition by Sonoma County Water Agency Requesting Approval of a Temporary Urgency Change in Permits 12947A, 12949, 12950 and 16596 in Mendocino and Sonoma Count

Summary

SCH Number
2024040668
Public Agency
Sonoma County Water Agency
Document Title
Petition by Sonoma County Water Agency Requesting Approval of a Temporary Urgency Change in Permits 12947A, 12949, 12950 and 16596 in Mendocino and Sonoma Count
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Received
Posted
4/16/2024
Document Description
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued its Biological Opinion for Water Supply, Flood Control Operations, and Channel Maintenance conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District in the Russian River Watershed (2008 Russian River Biological Opinion) on September 24, 2008. NMFS concluded in the Russian River Biological Opinion that the continued operations of Coyote Valley Dam and Warm Springs Dam by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) in a manner similar to recent historic practices, together with Sonoma Water’s stream channel maintenance activities and estuary management, are likely to jeopardize and adversely modify critical habitat for endangered Central California Coast coho salmon and threatened Central California Coast steelhead. The term of the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion was for 15 years, thereby ending in 2023. Sonoma Water and the Corps have completed a Biological Assessment and initiated consultation with NMFS to prepare the second iteration of the Russian River Biological Opinion. California Endangered Species Act compliance for state listed Coho salmon will be provided by incidental take permits issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for specific Sonoma Water Projects. The next Biological Opinion will have a 10-year term and is anticipated to start by the end of 2024. To be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion and to avoid excessively high flows that could result in violations to the Biological Opinion’s Incidental Take Statement, Sonoma Water is filing temporary urgency change petitions with the SWRCB. The petitions request that the SWRCB make the following changes to Sonoma Water’s water rights permits for the period from May 1, 2024, until October 15, 2024: (a) reduce the required minimum instream flow in the Russian River from the confluence of the East and West Forks to the river’s confluence with Dry Creek from 185 cfs to 125 cfs; and (b) reduce required minimum instream flow in the Russian River from its confluence with Dry Creek to the Pacific Ocean from 125 cfs to 70 cfs.

Contact Information

Name
Connie Barton
Agency Name
Sonoma County Water Agency
Job Title
Senior Environmental Specialist
Contact Types
Lead/Public Agency

Location

Cities
Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Ukiah
Counties
Mendocino, Sonoma
Regions
Countywide, Northern California, Unincorporated
Other Location Info
The project will occur in Mendocino and Sonoma counties at Lake Mendocino, in the Upper Russian River from Coyote Valley Dam/Lake Mendocino to the confluence with Dry Creek, and in the Lower Russian River from its confluence with Dry Creek to the Pacific Ocean. Figure 1 shows the minimum instream streamflow requirements for the Russian River system. Communities and cities along the Russian River include Ukiah, Hopland, Cloverdale, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Forestville, Mirabel Park, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Monte Rio, Duncans Mills, and Jenner.

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
Type, Section or Code
State CEQA Guidelines 15301(i), 15307, 15308.
Reasons for Exemption
The proposed action is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under the State CEQA Guidelines Sections 15307, 15308, and 15301(i). A. Actions by Regulatory Agencies for Protection of Natural Resources and the Environment CEQA Guidelines Sections 15307 and 15308 provide that actions taken by regulatory agencies to assure the maintenance, restoration or enhancement of a natural resource and the environment are categorically exempt from CEQA. If approved, the proposed changes in Russian River minimum instream flow requirements will increase available rearing habitat in the Upper Russian River and provide a lower, closer to natural inflow to the estuary between late spring and early fall, thereby enhancing the potential for maintaining a seasonal freshwater lagoon that could support increased production of juvenile steelhead. NMFS’ 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion states that these changes are necessary to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species. B. Existing Facilities Guidelines Section 15301(i) 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. Subdivision (i) of Section 15301 specifically includes maintenance of streamflows to protect fish and wildlife resources. Sonoma Water’s petition to the SWRCB to change to the minimum instream flow requirements specified in the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion does not request and will not expand Sonoma Water’s use or increase the water supply available to Sonoma Water for consumptive purposes. The proposed change in Russian River minimum instream flow requirements still will be within the existing operational parameters established by Decision 1610.
County Clerks
Mendocino, Sonoma

Attachments

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