Water

Water is an important topic here in Mendocino County for farmers, ranchers, wildlife, residents and businesses. Farmers and ranchers in Mendocino County are very aware of the importance of a long-term, reliable water supply and good water quality for everyone.  Mendocino County Farm Bureau works directly with farmers and ranchers in the various watersheds to consider critically important water issues.  Farm Bureau’s Water Committee reaches out to collaborate with multiple stakeholder groups and seeks to build partnerships that allow us to do even more for our members.


Water Committee News

Submitted by Frost Pauli, Water Committee Chair

Potter Valley Project (PVP) Update:

The licensing partnership, comprised of California Trout, the County of Humboldt, the Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Sonoma Water, continues to work to meet the next deadline imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which is the submittal of a progress report by the end of January.  Depending on FERC’s response to the progress report, the licensing process may continue, could come to a halt or some other combination of actions may occur. The other impending date to remember is April 14th when the current FERC License will expire, and PG&E will most likely begin to operate the Project on a year-to-year basis and may be directed by FERC to start a license surrender process.  There are numerous unknowns with what a potential license surrender and ultimate decommissioning would look like, but it is sure to be costly, take a long time, and be fraught with threats of litigation from all the parties involved.

In other (bad) news, back in October, PG&E announced that an electric transformer necessary for the operation of the powerhouse needs to be replaced at a cost of between $5 and $10 million and a repair time estimated to take up to two years.

As a result, PG&E has only been diverting around 45 cubic feet per second (CFS) through the diversion bypass from the Eel River. This will lead to a shortfall of storage water in Lake Mendocino, as I referenced in the first segment of this    article. In a normal winter, during high water flow in the Upper Main Stem Eel River, around 35,000-acre feet of water is diverted through the powerhouse into the Russian River above Lake Mendocino to generate electricity. This winter, we expect zero power production and around 7,000-acre feet of water delivered into Lake Mendocino if current diversion rates are not increased. With this in mind, the Inland Water and Power Commission and Sonoma Water, sent a letter to PG&E requesting that they increase diversions during storm events and high-water flows in the Upper Main Stem Eel River for health and safety needs of the residents in the Russian River basin.  Many other local agencies signed on to support this letter, including MCFB. The letter states that PG&E can use a bypass system to divert up to 145 CFS. This bypass flow would have minimal effect on the Eel River because all protective flows for the Eel River fishery would be maintained as required in the Project license, but would greatly help the storage levels in Lake Mendocino and the water supply for the entire Russian River basin.

To access the rest of this article, please visit the Member’s Only section


Water Diversion and Use Reporting

If you divert and use water from a surface water source such as a lake, creek, stream, or river, or you divert water from a subterranean stream that flows in a known and definite channel, California law requires you to report your diversion and use to the State Water Board, Division of Water Rights. Water use reports shall be filed on an annual basis and shall document diversions made during the prior calendar year. Reports for permits, licenses, registrations and certificates are due by April 1st. Statements of water diversion and use (riparian rights) or groundwater recordation are due by July 1st.  All water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year (riparian and pre-1914 ), or are authorized to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year under a permit, license, or registration, are required to measure the water they divert.

State Water Board Reports and Measurement Website

State Water Board Report Management System (for annual reporting) Website


The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

Map of SGMA

In December 2014, the Department of Water Resources  (DWR) released the ground water basin classifications to determine coverage under SGMA.  For Mendocino County, the upper Russian River from the Tomki Road area in Redwood Valley to Knight Hill (north of Hopland) was classified as a medium priority ground water basin, the Ukiah Valley ground water basin # 1-52, and is subject to SGMA compliance. From July of 2016 until July of 2017, the Mendocino County Water Agency hosted public meetings to assist in the formation of the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and Farm Bureau was at the table to ensure that agriculture was represented in the process.  The GSA formation was the first step to work toward compliance and this was completed in June of 2017. The Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (UVBGSA) was created by a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) and have been meeting regularly since 2017 to work toward the development of the groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) for the basin.  The GSP will need to be finalized and submitted to DWR by 2022. For additional information, please see the links below.

Ukiah Valley Groundwater Basin: Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA)

Department of Water Resources SGMA Website


Other Water Related Resources

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Quality Programs)

CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Lake and Streambed Alteration Program (1600 Permits)

Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District

Lake Mendocino Water Supply Information

CDEC Lake Mendocino Reservoir Data

Sonoma Water Russian River Gauges

USGS Russian River Gauge at Calpella

USGS West Fork Russian River Gauge

USGS Russian River Gauge at Talmage

USGS Russian River Gauge at Hopland

USGS Russian River Gauge Near Cloverdale

USGS Navarro River Gauge


“In my opinion, the benefits realized from the small amount of money we pay for the membership, by far outweighs the cost. If I had to go to a Water Rights Specialist alone, I would be talking about hundreds if not thousands of dollars.”Sandra Hognestadmember since 1995