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Russian River Plume from the Laguna

Dear Rue,

Thanks for getting this information out. I have recently been involved with
a construction grading project moving earth in Graton. Moving soil requires
permits and it isn’t cheap to accomplish. Quarry’s and other operations
creating sediment are also aware of this. When a construction firm has a
grading project and creates a small pile of stacked soil they are required
to fence, dam and hydro-seed the exposed earth so as to prevent this kind of
a runoff problem. Are there any farming practice BMP’s or grading
requirements that would prevent a recurrence of this problem? This sort of
thing seems like a poster child just screaming for more protective riparian
setbacks and seasonal prohibitions on certain farming practices. I hate to
dump any more bureaucracy on our farmers but it seems like there is a great
need to implement a general storm water permit for farming operations that
is at least as protective of watersheds as the General Construction permits.


Bob Rawson


HI there,
You will recall the “plume” story from last week. I have been gone for four
days (state planning conference – horror stories via guest speakers on state
water plans) and may have missed the details of the plume since then.
However, I did ask for clarification from the NCWQCB on what had happened
and what their results show.

I have further asked what the repercussions might be of this type of
clearing and the possible spreading of ludwigia – not to mention other
potential problems down the line. It does underscore our vulnerable water

Following is the response I received and I will let you know if I get any
further information regarding the ludwigia, etc. They had staff out in
canoes collecting samples last Thursday.

Have a spooky Halloween,

” …. Our guys have checked this out with Fish and Game and DHS and
understand it as follows. Aerial surveillance by SCWA reveals that the
black plume originates at a ranch on the Laguna where the farmer disked
about 100 acres several weeks ago to deal with a ludwigia problem. He
wanted to dry out the soil so he could plant corn. He used a 30″ disk and
he overturned soil very rich in organic content (black and smelly). There
was some spraying of perimeter area of Roundup under permit w/ the Ag
Commissioner. Last week’s rains caused the area to be immersed in water
(it’s very flat and low lying land) and when the rains were over the ponded
water drained into the Laguna and thence into the Russian causing a
discolored plume observable at Hacienda Bridge as well as Steelhead and
Vacation beaches. We have collected samples and are running them for !
pesticides and TOC =- total organic carbon. DFG is going to run bioassay
tests but since the DO = dissolved oxygen is zero we are not likely to learn
much about chemical toxicity. There is concern that because the TOC will
probably be high that chlorinating water rich in carbon content could result
in chlorination byproducts like THMs = trihalomethanes. But the water is
extracted from deep in the river gravel and is essentially filtered so this
may be an unecessary concern. The rancher is cooperative. The DFG contact
is Kyle Hiatt 718-6217. The DHS contact is Janis Oakley @ 576-2006.

It is now hours later than when I started this email and I have lab results
for TOC, pH, TDS/EC and COD = chemical oxygen demand. The TOC is on the
high end of the range of data we have compiled over the years for the
Laguna. pH is slightly acidic (6.75). EC/TDS is normal for the Laguna.
COD is pretty high (up to 160 mg/l). So I’d describe it as water with a
high organic content and visibly discolored. …… ”

” …. Best guy on our staff to talk to about this is Rich Fadness 576-6718.

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