Finally, 2020 is almost over and what a year it has been. The effects of COVID-19 have reached far and wide this year with unprecedented challenges felt by our local community, our businesses, our schools, and every possible aspect of our lives. Despite these challenges, we have been able to rise up and move forward. Even when individual acts seem small in the grand scheme of things, every act is one step forward.

We often read about largescale issues in the news like climate change, sea level rise, drought, and the list goes on. These are serious, big picture issues we have to address, but no one person, group, community, or nation can do this on their own overnight. Instead, it is the continued forward progression of smaller individual acts that can have the greatest, cumulative impact over time. This year we continued to push forward in every realm possible so that one day, our largescale issues won’t be so large anymore.

Trash Pollution

  • We worked with local educators and officials and to research and develop effective plans that will help facilitate moving homeless individuals into housing while also mitigating the negative impacts of abandoned encampments on our waterways.
  • Through local and state policy engagement, we worked to ensure that any litter present on our roadways is picked up and removed before mowing over that same area. Combined with California Coastkeeper’s own efforts on this issue we hope to significantly reduce the amount of trash entering our waterways and later becoming marine debris.

Stormwater Management

  • We coordinated and worked with local agricultural industry to prepare for development of the upcoming Vineyard water quality permit. Additionally, we attended various meetings, workshops, and regulatory hearings to discuss how existing regulatory structures can be improved in way that benefits both our water quality & river health, but does not impose unreasonable restrictions on the agricultural industry.
  • We identified and drew attention to existing regulatory weaknesses that stem from the use of insufficient data and failure to consider cumulative impacts of nutrient loading. We pushed for the adoption of numeric water quality standards for Nitrogen and Phosphorous as their narrative standards are insufficient to protect both fresh and marine water quality, with an increasing frequency of harmful algal blooms and coastal acidification.
  • Our participation in the Felta Creek Timber Harvesting Plan allowed us to ensure the Creek’s health and water quality was protected at all stages from harmful runoff and erosion.
  • We reported Skipstone Vineyards for illegal and egregious hillside bulldozing, resulting in a $172,282 fine. 

River Flows

  • We protested Sonoma Water Agency’s request to reduce flow levels on the Russian River below what has been deemed safe for our endangered species and human recreation. Without taking action—like mandatory conservation measures—to reduce demand on our River we risk significant and lasting harm to our environment and region’s water security, especially during drought years.

Potter Valley Project

  • As a group member on the Potter Valley Ad-hoc Committee, we help direct future Eel River water diversions to our watershed through extensive collaboration and engage weekly with other stakeholders to help chart implementation of the Two-Basin Plan.

In 2020, Russian Riverkeeper worked diligently to solve for these and other critical problems. We have also been involved in and/or party to citizen suits that will help: remove lead and other toxins from leaching into the Russian River, ensure stormwater permits are followed, protect our groundwater sources from unregulated permitting, and establish long-term water security for the Russian River.

Russian Riverkeeper is committed to ensuring our watershed is protected for the benefit of all local communities and preventing the harms that disproportionately lead to environmental, social, and economic injustices.