The Sonoma County Water Agency Zone 3A Flood Control Advisory Committee held its annual meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10. The group met so committee members could hear public concerns, updates on current agency projects, proposals for new projects and to set a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
With only two committee members in attendance, the group was not able to vote on anything, but did hear from the various members of the public, water agency staff and Sonoma Ecology Center staff.
Kent Gylfe, the water agency’s principal engineer, led the meeting, which was held in the Valley of the Moon Water District board room in El Verano.
The water agency, which is based in Santa Rosa, was created in 1949 as a special district by the state legislature to provide flood protection and water supply services. The agency controls the flooding of over 75 miles of streams. In 1995, the water agency was tasked with additional responsibilities of water sanitation and wastewater disposal. In 1958, as delineated in the original legislation, nine geographical zones were formed as a means of financing the construction and maintenance of flood protection projects in the county. Each of the nine zones covers a major watershed. Zone 3A is defined as the Valley of the Moon Watershed, which encompasses upper Sonoma Creek.
At the beginning of the meeting, several members of the public voiced concern over flooding in creeks near their neighborhoods, along with concerns about a lack of groundwater.
David Royal, who manages the water agency’s stream maintenance program, presented an overview of the program and updated the committee on current issues and projects.
The program was originally created to address issues on a case-by-case basis, but has evolved into an all-encompassing maintenance program. The goals of the program are to prevent flooding and maintain regulatory compliance.
Royal explained how he and his team have removed sediment to prevent back ups and maintain flow. He said 2013 was the second largest year for sediment removal, with teams removing 38,000 cubic yards. All sediment is taken to sites in the upper end of the watershed, such as nurseries and dairies that use it on their properties.
Sonoma Ecology Center staff members were also on hand to present current projects to the committee. Mark Newhouser, of the ecology center, outlined a multi-benefit project in which the center was working to restore the habitat around local creeks in the watershed, including Nathanson Creek and Fryer Creek, removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native plants.As part of this project, the center was looking at ways to make the area less impacted by flooding in the case of a surge of water or a storm.
Water agency project manager Susan Haydon presented the City Watershed Project, which Gylfe went on to explain is a multi-benefit project that looks at ways to prevent rapid water flows and flooding, and also seeks to recharge areas of low water with water collected. “Our highest priority is Nathanson Creek because of its high flood impact to the surrounding city and residential areas,” Gylfe said.
He also identified the Kenwood area at the top of the watershed as another priority, since it has a greater chance of massive impact in a flood, as high water would “trickle down into the lower surrounding areas.”