Meeting to unveil Fryer Creek flood reduction plan

Sonoma residents will be able to learn about a project that will help reduce flooding in Fryer Creek while recharging groundwater in the City of Sonoma at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.

The $1.9 million “City Watersheds of Sonoma Valley” award was awarded in the fall by the California Department of Water Resources, which administers funding from Proposition 1E, approved by voters in 2006. The multi-benefit project will capture rainwater during large storms, allowing the water to slow and sink into the ground before going into Fryer Creek in the City of Sonoma. An additional component of the project will reduce downstream flood risks.

“This multi-benefit, multi-stakeholder project will help reduce potential flooding in large storms by allowing the water to slow, spread and sink into the ground,” said First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who serves on the boards of Sonoma County’s Water Agency and Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

“City Watersheds will serve as a model for other projects throughout Sonoma Valley, which suffers from too much water during big storms and not enough groundwater during dry periods,” she said.

The water agency and Open Space District partnered with the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Ecology Center in developing this project, which will be located on open space land known as the Montini Preserve.

“The beauty of this project is that it will be designed using a natural basin, following the curves of the land,” said Richard Dale, executive director of the Sonoma Ecology Center. “The pasture will be re-planted after construction and neighbors and passers-by will only notice it during those few days a year when there are heavy rains. The rest of the year it will continue to be used as rangeland with same pasture views.”

A second project component will include replacement or modification of a culvert on Fryer Creek, at MacArthur Street, that will reduce flood risks and eliminate a barrier to fish migration.

“The 2005 New Year’s Flood woke us up to the risks faced in Sonoma. Projects like this watershed-wide will make the community safer for everyone,” said Sonoma Councilmember Ken Brown. “The city and the design team are excited about the opportunity to work with neighbors near Montini Preserve and along Fryer Creek to ensure the project protects public health and safety while minimizing disruption to the community and creek-users.”

While the grant amount is for $1.9 million, the cost including design and construction is expected to be $4.1 million.

Soil testing, using a drill rig, took place in December, along with outreach to Montini and Fryer Creek neighbors.

Project components include:

• A detention basin in existing pasture on Montini Preserve to both reduce flood risks during large storms and to increase groundwater recharge.

• Restoration and revegetation of the detention basin.

• Modification or replacement of a culvert that increases flood risks in Fryer Creek at MacArthur Street.

• Restoration and revegetation of Fryer Creek near culvert

Groundwater recharge is one component in a series of actions identified in the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Plan, which was prepared in 2007 by local stakeholders. Among other recommendations, the GWMP identifies groundwater recharge as a primary strategy to enhance the sustainability of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Basin.