Tuesday, January 10, 2012

KMTG Legal Alert: Frost Protection Water Use in Russian River Watershed, Even by Groundwater Pumpers, Now Conditional on SWRCB Approval of a Water Demand Management Program

On December 29, 2011, the California Office of Administrative Law approved the addition of a Frost Control Regulation (“Regulation”), effective immediately, requiring that diversion of water from the Russian River stream system for the purposes of frost protection between March 15 and May 15, is conditional on prior approval by the State Water Resources Control Board ("SWRCB") of a detailed Water Demand Management Program ("WDMP"). Only diversions upstream of Warm Springs Dam in Sonoma County or Coyote Dam in Mendocino County are exempt from the WDMP requirements. The Regulation is available here.

The SWRCB developed the Regulation to protect salmonids from the threat of stranding that could occur when stream flows and depths decrease rapidly due to high instantaneous demand for water for frost protection during a frost. The Regulation aims to avoid stranding mortality by requiring vineyard owners to manage their diversions to coordinate and reduce instantaneous demand.

For a detailed discussion of the Regulation, please see the full KMTG Legal Alert here.

If you have any questions concerning this topic, please contact Janet K. Goldsmith or Rebecca R. Akroyd from our office, or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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