State Water Board Drought Year Water Actions - Russian River

2015 Drought-Related Emergency Regulation Requiring Enhanced Water Conservation and Additional Water User Information for the Protection of Specific Fisheries in Tributaries to the Russian River

Subscribe to our Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulation email list to receive notifications and the latest updates. After subscribing, you will need to check your email host for a confirmation email to complete the subscription.

Email Address: (required)
Your Full Name: (required)
(e.g. John Smith)

  Subscribe to our other email lists. See the "[ADD LISTSERVE SECTION HERE]section.


On June 17, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted an emergency regulation to help protect federal- and state-listed anadromous fish in four priority Russian River tributary watersheds (Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, portions of Mark West Creek, and Mill Creek). The Office of Administrative Law approved the emergency regulation and the emergency regulation went into effect on July 6, 2015. The emergency regulation is in effect for 270 days. The emergency regulation requires: (1) enhanced water conservation in critical areas of the four watersheds; and (2) information on water use if requested by the State Water Board.

The ongoing drought places juvenile Central California Coast (CCC) coho salmon (coho salmon) and CCC steelhead (steelhead) in Russian River tributaries in a perilous situation, affecting the survival of the species. Coho salmon and steelhead depend on pools with suitable temperatures and dissolved oxygen to grow during the summer months and then migrate to the ocean in the late fall through spring. Minimal water is needed to maintain acceptable temperature and oxygen conditions for these species to survive. In a letter dated May 28, 2015, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service recommend that the State Water Board develop emergency regulations for the affected watersheds to: (1) issue informational orders to determine the extent of current surface and subsurface diversion operations in each watershed; and (2) immediately implement conservation measures to limit the amount of water extracted from these watersheds. Successful implementation of the regulation will help provide the small amount of water necessary to maintain pools for summer rearing and migration of coho salmon and steelhead in the four Russian River tributary watersheds.

The 2016 Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulation renews the State Water Board's authority to continue collecting information from landowners and waters suppliers in the four watershed, including follow up with and enforcement of those who have not complied with the Informational Order. The 2016 Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulation does not include the enhanced water conservation measures at this time, because of the improved rainfall so far this year. Collection of a more complete and accurate data set in the four watersheds will help to better inform future actions in the short term, if the drought continues, as well as in the long term as part of the California Water Action Plan instream flow effort.

Below you will find information pertaining to the 2015 Russian River Emergency Regulation, The Informational Order issued in 2015 and State Water Board Informational Meetings held in 2015. For information and documents pertaining to the development of the 2015 and 2016 emergency regulations please Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulations Development webpage.

Fact Sheets and other Information on 2015 Emergency Regulations

emailenv  Subscribe to the Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulation email list to receive updates. (see the "Water Rights" section).

Informational Order

On December 15, 2015, the Assistant Deputy Director for Water Rights issued Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Complaints to landowners and water suppliers in the four watersheds who failed to submit information in response to the Informational Order. Landowners and water suppliers that have not responded to the Informational Order as of December 13, 2015, were issued an ACL Complaint. A total of 1,881 ACL Complaints have been issued in the following watersheds: 174 ACL Complaints in Dutch Bill Creek; 836 ACL Complaints in Green Valley Creek; 820 ACL Complaints in portions of Mark West Creek; and 51 ACL Complaints in Mill Creek.

The State Water Board's Deputy Director for Water Rights signed an Informational Order for the four Russian River tributaries on August 24, 2015. The Informational Order provides the State Water Board with a mechanism to obtain information to investigate drought-related water right matters and to inform potential future action. The State Water Board is issuing this Informational Order to collect information on water diversion and use in the four priority tributary watersheds. The State Water Board lacks this information in the four priority tributary watersheds and cannot accurately estimate total water demand and the uses of water in the four priority watersheds.

The Informational Order requires landowners in and suppliers of water from the four tributaries to provide information to the State Water Board using an Online Informational Order Form. Landowners and water suppliers can access the online form with an Identification Code and Password that they will receive by mail. The Informational Orders are being issued in phases by tributary watershed, alphabetically: Dutch Bill Creek (mailed August 26, 2015; due October 9, 2015); Green Valley Creek (mailed August 31, 2015; due October 14, 2015); portions of Mark West Creek (mailed September 15, 2015; due October 20, 2015); and Mill Creek (mailed September 18, 2015; due October 23, 2015). Informational Order due dates have now passed for all tributary watersheds. Per the regulation, failure to comply with the Informational Order could result in enforcement with penalties of up to $500 for each day the information is not submitted after it is due. Additional monetary penalties may also be imposed for any other non-compliance. For more details on the Informational Order including due dates for each watershed, sample informational order forms, and other resources please visit the Informational Order webpage.


State Water Board Informational Meetings

January 28, 2016 North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Meeting
State Water Board Update on Water Rights and Fisheries Management Actions in the Russian River Watershed

Updated Informational Order Response Maps (dated January 11, 2016)

November 2, 2015 Information Meeting

Information Meeting on Russian River Tributaries Water Conservation and Informational Order Emergency Regulation. On November 2, 2015 State Water Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff will provide information on the current condition of the fisheries, impact of conservation and voluntary drought initiatives and the status of data collected through the regulation's informational order.

State Water Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Presentation: Russian River Tributaries Emergency Regulation Follow Up Meeting

July 6-9, 2015 Information Meetings
The week of July 6, 2015, State Water Board staff held meetings to provide interested parties with information on the emergency regulation and hear from residents and businesses on additional steps that should be considered to help fish survive in this fourth year of dry conditions.

State Water Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Presentation: Russian River Tributaries Water Conservation and Informational Order

State Water Board Contact Information & Email Subscription