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Russian River: CSPA Supports Rulemaking for Frost Control


By Chris Shutes, CSPA FERC Projects Director

January 14, 2010 -- In a January 12, 2010 letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, CSPA has supported a rulemaking process to create regulations for frost control diversions in the Russian River watershed.

Water is diverted from the Russian and its tributaries in the springtime so that it can be sprayed on budding grapevines in order to prevent foliage from being destroyed by frost. The ice that forms from the water sprayed on the plants insulates them and protects their ability to produce grapes later in the year.

In the last two years, the National Marine Fisheries Service documented cases where fish were stranded when high water demand for frost control drastically reduced flows in the watershed. In response, winegrowers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties undertook a series of voluntary actions to avoid loss of fish during frost events.
At a December 16, 2009 hearing before the Board, CSPA supported NMFS as well as other fisheries and environmental groups in a call for mandatory rules to complement voluntary actions. CSPA maintained that voluntary actions were supported by requirements to assure that all diverters contribute their fair share. CSPA also called for the Board to “count the water:” in other words, to require monitoring and reporting of all diversions.
The rule proposed by the Deputy Director, Division of Water Rights would require real-time monitoring and reporting of diversions, but only during the spring. In its January 12 letter to the Board, CSPA asks that monitoring and reporting of diversions in the watershed be required year-round, and that the website where monitoring is posted be accessible to the public.
Read the letter HERE.