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A water plan to benefit both fish and people

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

“Streamflow”describes the flow of water through streams, creeks, rivers and other channels on its way to a larger body of water. And good streamflow is essential for healthy ecosystems and for a dependable supply of fresh water for human use.

That’s why Sonoma Ecology Center and Trout Unlimited are launching the Streamflow Stewardship Program, designed to recruit the help of Sonoma Valley landowners in developing a plan to enhance streamflow in the upper Sonoma Creek Watershed. The program’s goal: working together to create a streamflow plan that benefits both fish and people.

“We’re looking to forge new bonds with Sonoma Valley landowners, particularly ones with land on or near a tributary, so that we can work together on a plan to improve streamflow, said Don Frances, SEC Communications Manager.  “Doing so would be a benefit to both fish and people.”
On Sonoma Creek, as in so many of California’s coastal watersheds, one of the main problems fish and wildlife face is lack of streamflow, particularly in the late summer. Streamflow is naturally at its lowest between August and October, just when water demand for homes, businesses and farms is at its highest. The result is that neither fish – including steelhead and Chinook salmon – nor people can count on secure water supplies, particularly during times of drought.

The Sonoma Creek Streamflow Stewardship Program seeks to change that.

The program begins in May with strategic, science-based streamflow monitoring. Over the ensuing months, a series of conversations will take place with local farmers, landowners, residents and other water users living along Sonoma Creek and its tributaries. The goal is to gather knowledge and build relationships that will form the basis of a community-developed plan to enhance flows in upper Sonoma Creek. The final plan should be released in May of 2019.

Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with streamflow enhancement projects in over a dozen coastal California watersheds, multiple successes in Sonoma County.

The Sonoma Valley plan will draw on a range of techniques that have been successful in other watersheds to help landowners reduce water diversions in the dry season. These include installing water storage tanks to switch the timing of diversion from summer to winter, using small pumps to reduce rates of water diversion, harvesting rainwater, and water conservation.

Public funding is available to help pay for such projects, Frances said.

Landowners interested in discussing a potential project on their property – or in better understanding groundwater regulations, rights and responsibilities – are encouraged to contact SEC restoration technician Melissa Roberts at 707.996.071.





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