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Natural Resources

For Immediate Release

Sonoma Water board approves study of lower Russian River wastewater treatment options

SANTA ROSA, CA | June 13, 2022

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) Board of Directors voted today to move forward with a study of options to treat wastewater in the lower Russian River communities of Monte Rio and Villa Grande.

“This study will build the foundation for community-specific solutions to protect public health and improve water quality in the Russian River,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who also is a Sonoma Water director. “The Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens Advisory Group will be actively engaged in working with the study team, so we can be sure that the solutions reflect local concerns, including affordability.”

Homes and businesses in several economically disadvantaged communities along the lower Russian River rely on onsite wastewater treatment systems for treatment and disposal of septic waste. Many of these systems do not meet current standards and have the potential to discharge inadequately treated wastewater into the Russian River and its tributary creeks.

The $425,000 study approved by the board, which will be conducted by Brelje & Race Consulting Engineers, will investigate a broad range of options, including an alternative or alternatives recommended by the Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) and an Interagency Team, composed of representatives of the Regional Board, Sonoma County Fifth District Supervisor’s office, Sonoma County’s Permit Sonoma Department, Sonoma County Administrator’s Office, and Sonoma Water.

“The Citizens Advisory Group is looking forward to moving on to this new phase of the project,” said Monte Rio resident Steve Trippe, co-chair of the CAG. “After our time together spent understanding the issues and clarifying community priorities, now the real work begins. We’re excited to work with Brelje & Race to identify effective and affordable solutions for our community.”

The feasibility report will include a conceptual design and budget of alternatives and is a key step in developing a pilot project to help property owners bring individual and/or community wastewater treatment up to current standards and comply with the new Total Maximum Daily Load requirements adopted by the Regional Board to address pollution in the lower Russian River watershed.

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) initiated this pilot project to analyze alternatives for residents of Monte Rio and Villa Grande for compliance with California State and Regional Board standards for wastewater disposal, in partnership with the County of Sonoma and Sonoma Water.

About the Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens Advisory Group (CAG)

The CAG is engaged with efforts to develop sustainable and affordable wastewater solutions for communities in the lower Russian River area that will improve local water quality and meet the new State and County requirements. The CAG has two primary roles: (1) communicating with and advising the Interagency Team that is coordinating regulatory and implementation efforts, including a wastewater treatment improvement pilot project for the Monte Rio Villa Grande area, and (2) supporting citizens in understanding how the pilot project wastewater solutions in combination with the new regulations might impact them.

The CAG generally meets the fourth Thursday of each month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., currently via Zoom. Details are available here:


Media Contacts:Ted Appel, Communications 565-3040575 Administration Drive, Suite 104ASanta Rosa, CA 95403

Ann DuBay, Community & Government Affairs Manager 
Sonoma Water 
(707) 524-8378