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Natural Resources

For Immediate Release

State approves Sonoma Water’s Request for Temporary Changes in Russian River Flows

SANTA ROSA, CA | June 01, 2023

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The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) recently approved a request by the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) to modify Russian River instream flows.

The Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed by Sonoma Water in April, and approved by the State Board on May 19, amends Sonoma Water’s water rights permits and State Board Decision 1610 in order to comply with the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion and to enhance salmonid habitat in Dry Creek and the mainstem Russian River.

The approved modifications include the following changes:

  • From May 1 through October 15, 2023, the instream flow requirements for the upper Russian River will be reduced from 185 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 125 cfs.
  • From May 1 through October 15, 2023, the instream flow requirements for the lower Russian River will be reduced from 125 cfs to 70 cfs.

“The Russian River watershed is recovering from three years of consecutive drought and these changes are a key tool in managing the water supply for more than 600,000 people and the environment in Sonoma and Marin counties.” said Sonoma Water Director Chris Coursey.

Sonoma Water will implement the minimum instream flows using a five-day running average of daily stream flows, with the requirement that flows don’t drop below 110 cfs on the upper Russian River and 60 cfs on the lower Russian River. For example, upper river flows may be higher than 125 cfs on some days and lower than 125 cfs (but no lower than 110 cfs) on other days, as long as over a five-day period, minimum flows average 125 cfs. The changes allow Sonoma Water to manage instream flows more effectively to meet the objectives in the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion.

Sonoma Water will continue consultations with staff from the State Board, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, National Marine Fisheries Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to address any water quality, fishery, or public health and safety concerns.

To read the TUCP, the state Temporary urgency Change Order and to learn more about the drought, please visit


Sonoma Water provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at

Andrea Rodriguez
Communications Manager, Sonoma Water
(707) 331-2040