- 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).
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
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 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.
Regional Water Board staff are currently accepting comments regarding potential environmental impacts of the TMDL and mitigation measures for those impacts. Please see the Public Notice for complete details about submitting CEQA comments. All comments are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.
The public review draft of the TMDL will be released the summer of 2015. The Regional Water Board is scheduled to consider the adoption of the TMDL in October 2015. Should the Regional Water Board adopt the TMDL, it will be considered by the State Water Resource Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a process that takes approximately one year.
Water Quality Data Collection
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:
- 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
- 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 staff are 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.
Rebecca Fitzgerald, TMDL Unit Supervisor
Updated February 19, 2015