- Albion River
- Big River
- Eel River, North Fork
- Eel River, Upper Main
- Eel River, Middle Main
- Eel River, Middle Fork
- Eel River, Lower Main
- Eel River, South Fork
- Elk River
- Freshwater Creek
- Garcia River
- Gualala River
- Klamath River
- Laguna De Santa Rosa
- Lost River, Upper
- Lost River, Lower
- Mad River
- Mattole River
- Navarro River
- Noyo River
- Redwood Creek
- Russian River
- Salmon River
- Scott River
- Shasta River
- Stemple Creek
- Ten Mile River
- Trinity River
- Trinity River, South Fork
- Van Duzen River
Russian River TMDLs
The Russian River drains a 1,485 square mile watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, California. Major tributaries to the Russian River include Forsythe Creek, Big Sulphur Creek, Dry Creek, Laguna de Santa Rosa, and Austin Creek. There are two major dams in the watershed, creating Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma.
To receive notices and information on the Russian River via e-mail, please go here to subscribe to the listserve and click on “Russian River TMDL.”
Water bodies in the Russian River watershed are listed under the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) (per the proposed 2012 List) due to impairments to water quality by several pollutants.
The entire Russian River watershed is impaired for sediment and temperature. Recent data show a pathogen indicator bacteria impairment throughout the watershed. Green Valley Creek is listed as impaired for dissolved oxygen. Lake Sonoma, Lake Mendocino, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa are impaired for mercury in fish tissue. The Laguna de Santa Rosa is also impaired for phosphorus and dissolved oxygen, in addition to the watershed-wide sediment, temperature, and pathogen indicator bacteria impairments (please see the Laguna TMDL webpage for additional information).
Several projects are underway to clean up 303(d) listed waterbodies via the establishment of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs).
Water quality monitoring from the Russian River and its tributary creeks reflect widespread contamination with bacteria and other indicators of human waste, which pose a potential threat to the health of the river ecosystem and the people who visit it. Bacteria can indicate the presence of pathogenic organisms that are found in warm-blooded animal waste. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is developing the Russian River Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL to address the pathogen indicator bacteria impairment in the Russian River Watershed.
Popular swimming beaches along the mainstem Russian River are monitored for bacteria every summer. When fecal indicator bacteria levels exceed recommended levels, warning signs are posted at the beach. Beach monitoring results are posted by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services here:
What can area residents do to help the problem?
- If you have a septic system, have it checked and cleaned. If it needs repair, fix it!
- When you’re enjoying the river, use a portable toilet or other restroom facilities.
- Make sure dirty diapers are put in a garbage can and not left on the ground
- Pick up pet waste.
- If you keep large animals, clean up their waste - and make sure contaminated runoff does not reach your local creek or the river.
The Draft Staff Report for the Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, August 21, 2015 (draft Staff Report) and draft Basin Plan Amendment language
The draft staff report and draft Basin Plan Amendment language are available for public download and review. Written comments are due to the Regional Water Board by 5:00pm October 8, 2015. Additional details can be found in the Public Notice.
Staff-led Public Workshops will be held the third week in September 2015 at the following locations. Additional details can be found in the Notice.
Monte Rio Middle School
20700 Foothill Dr, Monte Rio, CA
Tuesday September 22, 2015 - 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
University of California Cooperative Extension - Mendocino County
890 N. Bush St. Ukiah, CA
Wednesday September 23, 2015 - 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Blvd. Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA
Thursday September 24, 2015 - 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.
Documents for Download:
Public Comments on the Draft Action Plan (October 20, 2015)
- Comments from Interested Agencies (zip file)
- Comments from Local Associations & Groups (zip file)
- Comments from Individuals (zip file)
- Editorial Updates to Aide in Review
- Draft Basin Plan Amendment
- Draft revisions to the On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Requirements as contained in Chapter 4 of the Basin Plan
- Draft Staff Report for the Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, August 21, 2015 (entire report)
- Chapter 1. Introduction
- Chapter 2. Standards, Indicators & Targets
- Chapter3. Evidence of Impairment
- Chapter 4. Numeric Targets
- Chapter 5. Source Analysis
- Chapter 6. Seasonal Variation and Critical Conditions
- Chapter 7. Linkage Analysis
- Chapter 8. TMDL Calculations and Allocations
- Chapter 9. Implementation
- Chapter 10. Monitoring
- Chapter 11. CEQA Substitute Environmental Analysis
- Chapter 12. Economic Considerations
- Chapter 13. Antidegradation Analysis
- Chapter 14. Public Participation Summary
- Chapter 15. Nine Key Elements
- Chapter 16. References Cited in Staff Report
- Appendix A. Types of Pathogens & Types of Fecal Indicator Bacteria
- Appendix B. Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Impact Study Report
- Appendix C. Effect of Russian River Dry Season Stream Flow Management on E. coli Bacteria Concentrations
Peer Review Draft Staff Report for the Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, January 16, 2015
A Peer Review Draft Staff Report for the Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, January 16, 2015 (Peer Review Draft Staff Report) was prepared for external scientific peer review related to the assessment and control of pathogen indicator bacteria discharges in the Russian River Watershed. After a selection process for candidate peer reviewers, the State Water Resources Control Board identified two reviewers approved to conduct the scientific peer review:
Patricia A. Holden
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara
Nicholas J. Ashbolt
School of Public Health
University of Alberta, Edmonton
The Peer Review Draft Staff Report was the primary scientific document submitted for peer review.
- Peer Review Draft Staff Report for the Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, January 16, 2015
Additional monitoring reports and technical memoranda were secondary documents, which support the Peer Review Draft Staff Report, and were also made available for review (see Other Project Documents below). Reviewers were asked to determine whether each of the identified findings and conclusions that constitute the scientific portions of the Peer Review Draft Staff Report are “based upon sound scientific knowledge, methods, and practices”.
Comments received from each Scientific Peer Reviewer are presented below:
CEQA Scoping Meeting
The Regional Water Board held a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) public scoping meeting concerning the development of the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL on January 30, 2015. The purpose of the meeting was to gather input on possible environmental impacts of the Russian River TMDL. The comment period closed on Wednesday February 18, 2015 at 5 PM.
The presentation and handouts from the public scoping meeting are available below:
- Fact Sheet
- Environmental Checklist Form
- Potential Implementation Actions For the Russian River Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL
Other Project Documents
- Russian River Pathogen TMDL Monitoring Pilot Project: A Summary Report to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (September 2009)
- Russian River Pathogen TMDL Monitoring Design: A Technical Report to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (September 2009)
- Fact Sheet summarizing the Russian River Pathogen Pilot Study (January 2011)
- Russian River Pathogen TMDL 2011-2012 Monitoring Report (May 2012)
- Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Impact Study Report (July 2013)
- Russian River Beach Recreation Impact Study Report (Nov 2013)
- Upper Russian River Fecal Indicator Bacteria Monitoring Report (Nov 2013)
- Russian River Human Impact Study - Phylochip Microbial Community Analysis (May 2014)
Quality Assurance Project Plans
- Russian River Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL QAPP (May 2011)
- Russian River Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL Supplemental Sampling Plan QAPP (November 2011)
- Russian River Human Impact Study QAPP (November 2012)
- Russian River Pathogen TMDL Sampling Plan (July 2013)
- GIS Model Development for Assessing Risk from Septic Systems (Forestcue,F., August 2012)
- Selection of Sample Sites for Septic System Impact Study (Butkus, S., October 2012)
- Evaluation of FIB Sampling Variability (Butkus, S., January 2013)
- Assessment of FIB Concentrations and Land Cover (Butkus, S., January 2013)
- Trend Analysis of Fecal Indicator Bacteria Concentrations Measured in the Russian River Watershed (Butkus, S., July 2013)
- Evaluation of Fecal Coliform Bacteria Concentrations Measured in the Russian River Watershed (Butkus, S., July 2013))
- Evaluation of the Averaging Period for Application of Fecal Indicator Bacteria Water Quality Criteria (Butkus, S., July 2013)
- Seasonality of Fecal Indicator Bacteria Loads (Butkus, S., September 2013)
- Evaluation of Fecal Indicator Bacteria Types (Butkus S., October 2013)
- Fecal Indicator Bacteria Concentration Reductions Needed to Meet Water Quality Criteria (Butkus, S., November 2013)
- Evidence of Water Contact Recreation Impairment in the Russian River Watershed (Butkus, S., June 2014)
- E. Coli Bacteria Concentration Reductions Needed to Meet Water Quality Criteria for Different Land Cover Areas (Butkus, S., June 2014)
- Summary and review of report titled "Russian River Human Impact Study - Phylochip Microbial Community Analysis" (Butkus, S., June 2014)
- Survivability of Fecal Indicator Bacteria in Ambient Surface Waters (Butkus, S., August 2014)
- Effect of Russian River Dry Season Stream Flow Management on E. coli Bacteria Concentrations (Butkus, S., November 2014)
- Assessment of SHELL beneficial use in the Russian River Watershed (Butkus, S., January 2015)
- 2009 PhyloChip Presentation to Regional Water Board staff by E. Dubinsky et al.
- November 3, 2011 Board Presentation.
- January 27, 2011 Board Presentation.
- August 23, 2012 Board Presentation.
- August 22, 2013 Board Presentation
- March 13, 2014 Board Presentation
- August 28, 2014 Public Presentation on Implementation Plan Development
- August 28, 2014 Public Presentations on Implementation Plan Development Poster
- January 30, 2015 CEQA Scoping Meeting
- September 22, 2015 Public Workshop (Monte Rio)
- September 23, 2015 Public Workshop (Ukiah)
- September 24, 2015 Public Workshop (Santa Rosa)
- November 19, 2015 Board Presentation
- November 17, 2016 Presentation to the Fitch Mountain Association
- USEPA Webpage: Impaired Waters and TMDLs
- USEPA: 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria
- State Water Resources Control Board: Water Quality Control Policy for Siting, Design, Operation and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS Policy)
As part of our efforts to control sediment waste discharges and restore sediment impaired water bodies like the Russian River, the Regional Water Board adopted the Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Policy Statement for Sediment Impaired Receiving Waters in the North Coast Region, which is also known as the Sediment TMDL Implementation Policy, on November 29, 2004. The Sediment TMDL Implementation Policy states that Regional Water Board staff shall control sediment pollution by using existing permitting and enforcement tools.
Specific sediment control measures that Regional Water Board staff are taking or plan to take in the Russian River watershed are described in the
Regional Water Board Staff Work Plan to Control Excess Sediment in Sediment-Impaired Watersheds.
Regional Water Board is proposing to address the Russian River temperature impairment in part through the development of a region-wide temperature TMDL implementation policy.
Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma in the Russian River have been listed under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act for mercury pollution measured in fish tissue. Mercury, also called quicksilver, is a heavy metal and potent neurotoxin that is harmful to humans and wildlife. Mercury builds up in the bodies of fish and also in people who eat contaminated fish. Possible mercury sources include mercury and gold mines, soil erosion due to human activities such as logging and road construction, and airborne sources from North America and Asia.
A statewide effort to develop mercury TMDLs for at least 75 lakes and reservoirs is under development. Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are part of the statewide effort.
Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest tributary to the Russian River, has also been placed on the Section 303(d) for mercury pollution measured in fish tissue. The development of the Laguna de Santa Rosa TMDL for mercury contamination is not yet scheduled.
Alydda Mangelsdorf, Planning Unit Supervisor
Updated April 20, 2017