[caption id="attachment_93623" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A wad of roots is moved into position to become habitat for Coho in Dry Creek. (credit: Sonoma County Water Agency)[/caption]
President Obama on Tuesday signed authorization for 34 Army Corps of Engineers water-related projects nationwide, including a long-sought green light for restoration projects in Dry Creek, allowing badly needed reservoir water to continue to flow sufficiently to meet the needs in Sonoma and northern Marin counties without an estimated $300 million bypass pipeline.
The president signed House Resolution 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. A provision in Section 1028 of it allows the U.S. Corps of Engineers to enter into cost-sharing for fish habitat projects downstream of its operations. That will allow the Corps to improve habitat along six miles of Dry Creek, which is supplied from the Corps' Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma.
Those upgrades are required under the September 2008 Russian River biological opinion by National Marine Fisheries Service for the Corps and Sonoma County Water Agency in order to allow the 110- to 175-cubic-feet-a-second summer flow rates in the creek. Without the new authorization, the water agency would have had to build a pipeline from the dam to the river to avoid increasing the flow of water in the creek.
Corps funding for the Dry Creek project was initially limited to $5 million, according to the water agency. With this new legislation, the Corps is authorized to contribute money toward the full project cost, which is estimated to be $36 million--$48 million.
To date, local funding for the project has come from a property-tax assessments on all Sonoma County taxpayers for the construction and maintenance of Warm Springs Dam, the water agency said.
As of June 8, the water supply in Lake Sonoma was 72.8 percent and in Lake Mendocino, 44.6 percent, according to the water agency.