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Comment on Water Conservation

It is my understanding that the North Coast Basin Plan does not allow the addition of any water during the summer prohibition period. It seems to me that we should be exploring ways of modifying this to allow the addition of water to critical stream flows when it can be justified as a way of protecting endangered species from extinction that seems almost inevitable in the wake of the massive disruptions that agriculture and development have imposed on the natural system. I suspect that fish prefer recycled water to going completely without water. That probably applies to people and plants also. What Camp Meeker is doing can be commended for at least keeping the water within its watershed of origin, rather than transferring it out of its watershed with a regional redistribution system. While this idea is not natural, it is probably the best band aid plan available to save the wild stocks until something else can be put in place.

Green Valley Creek certainly needs help. I wish that the Basin Plan rules allowed Graton CSD to discharge its tertiary water into Atascadero/Green Valley Creek during this critical low water flow period. It would at least save the few wild fish stocks that are trying to survive there. Perhaps the Basin Plan can be changed sufficiently so as to allow such an emergency response, in the same way that fire departments are allowed to use it to put out fires. The original prohibition against summer discharge was put in place back in the bad old Polio days when almost raw sewerage was discharged into the river year around, and there was a legitimate health concern with contact. That day is gone. Our concerns with Recycled water are now about nutrients and endocrines, not Polio. Small quantities of aged tertiary recycled water could be released after additional carbon filtration treatment to remove endocrines, phosphorous ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and salt. Graton has the infrastructure already in place to accomplish this additional endocrine removal treatment on a small scale if it were allowed. Reclaimed water could also be introduced via overland flow to offset riparian transpiration by willow trees to reduce the impact of creek draw down on these hot days. How do others feel about this? I think this needs to be explored.

Bob Rawson