Gorin to host meeting on Valley water supply

The state of the Sonoma Valley water supply is the subject of an upcoming public meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 31, at Vintage House senior center, 264 First St. E.

The meeting will be hosted by Sonoma County Water Agency director and county Supervisor Susan Gorin.

Several dry years combined with the driest year of record in 2013 have culminated in drought conditions across the region. This meeting, co-sponsored by the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sonoma Valley Basin Advisory Panel, is the first in a series of drought town hall meetings planned throughout the county this spring.

Sonoma Valley currently meets its water needs through a combination of groundwater and Russian River water. While a little more than half of Sonoma Valley’s water demand is met by local groundwater resources, the water agency supplies Russian River water to fulfill 95 percent of the City of Sonoma’s water demand and 85 percent of the Valley of the Moon Water District’s demand. Technical studies and monitoring of the Sonoma Valley groundwater basin have found long-term declining groundwater levels, relatively low aquifer yield and saline intrusion in the south side of the valley. Meanwhile, water from the Russian River must travel more than 30 miles to reach the Sonoma Valley and has been impacted by requirements to protect endangered fish and environmental needs.

“These issues affect all water users, whether urban, residential, business, or agricultural. With the ongoing drought, Sonoma Valley citizens need to come together to find out more about our shared water supply, get questions answered, learn what agencies are doing to address these critical needs, and conserve water immediately in our daily lives,” said Gorin.

Besides an update on the drought, the meeting will also include a five-year update on the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Program. The program was initiated in 2008 in accordance with the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Plan, which was released in 2007 by a broad coalition of local stakeholders and technical advisors called the Sonoma Valley Basin Advisory Panel.

The Sonoma Valley contains two large depressions of groundwater in deep wells where more water has been pumped than has recharged. Over the past five years, monitoring has shown that these depressions have worsened. The areas experiencing these depressions (El Verano and southeast of Sonoma city limits) contain multiple uses, such as rural, residential and agricultural wells.

Additional topics will include strategies to address the water supply needs of Sonoma Valley including stormwater management – groundwater recharge, groundwater banking of imported winter surplus water, increased use of recycled water, and increased water conservation efforts.

Representatives from the Sonoma County Water Agency, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD), the City of Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon Water District, the Sonoma Resource Conservation District, North Bay Agriculture Alliance, and the Basin Advisory Panel will be in attendance to answer water supply questions.

A “Drought Drive Up” event to supply county residents with water-efficient “drought kits” is also planned for April 23.

An additional meeting on Sonoma Valley groundwater will be held in Kenwood from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the Kenwood Fire Station.