Action Alerts   Press Releases   Watershed Planning   California Cast   Trout   Conservation Library   Links of Interest

    Continued from Fish Wire

California Water Board Adopts New Frost Regulations

For more information on frost protection, check out:  http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/hearings/russian_river_frost/

The Press Democrat ran this article about the new regulations: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110920/ARTICLES/110929960

On September 20, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted a new “reasonable use” regulation to reduce impacts on salmon and steelhead of water diversions for purposes of frost protection of crops in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. The regulation was initiated by concerns over the threat to salmon and steelhead of frost protection of grapes and other crops in the Russian River watershed.

“The new regulations go a long way in helping to keep water in our rivers for salmon and steelhead during a critical time of year, while still allowing grape growers and others to protect their crops from frost,” says Brian Johnson, California water project director and staff attorney for Trout Unlimited in California. “We are already working with grape growers, conservation organizations, other stakeholders and agencies in implementing effective, successful alternatives to direct diversions of water for frost protection.”

The new regulations will take effect on March 14, 2012, and state that any diversion of water from the Russian River stream system, including the pumping of hydraulically connected groundwater, for purposes of frost protection, from March 15 through May 15, shall be “unreasonable” and a violation of water code – unless the water is diverted in accordance with a Board approved water demand management program, or the water is diverted upstream of Warm Springs Dam in Sonoma County or Coyote Dam in Mendocino County.

Trout Unlimited is already working cooperatively with wineries, grape growers and others to help develop small off-stream ponds for irrigation and frost water to keep more water in rivers and streams during the driest and most critical times of year, repair fish passage barriers, and restore habitat. Trout Unlimited and its partners are also working with grape growers to install fans that can be used instead of water, protecting grapes from frost damage while leaving more water in the rivers for fish. While fans do not work everywhere, they are an excellent solution in many places.

“We’re already showing, on the ground, that grape growers can redesign their frost protection systems to satisfactorily meet the needs of people and fish,” Johnson says. “We applaud the Water Board for adopting this new regulation which will ensure greater protection for salmon and steelhead while maintaining that balance. “

For more information on frost protection, check out:  http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/hearings/russian_river_frost/

The Press Democrat ran this article about the new regulations: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110920/ARTICLES/110929960