Watershed Protection

Sonoma SASS – The ” Watershed Watchdog”

Eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides directly impacts our watersheds in Sonoma County. The results of a March 2018 pilot study of the California State Water Board’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program to monitor constituents of emerging concern in the Russian River watershed pointed to a need to address both urban and agricultural chemical use. Pesticides commonly used in agricultural and residential settings were found in Russian River sediments at levels high enough to harm benthic organisms (animals that live in sediment). As many terrestrial species spend their larval stages in underwater sediments, this is particularly concerning.

Sonoma SASS serves as an important watchdog over regulations that aim to protect water including the new pesticide-use provisions included in the 2016 North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Stormwater permit that applies to all Sonoma County Agencies and most of the cities in Sonoma County. Sonoma SASS has worked with Sonoma County Agencies and most of the cities throughout the county to make sure that they understand and are following these important rules.

In addition, we are currently working to educate Sonoma County boards and staff to consider including a synthetic pesticide (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, lethal rodenticides, etc) ban in Sonoma County’s Local Coastal Plan (LCP) to better protect coastal watersheds and ecosystems. Los Angeles County and more recently, the City of Malibu, have successfully used LCPs to ban all pesticides on both public and private lands in sensitive areas of the coastal zone. It would be particularly meaningful to stop the use of anti-coagulant rodenticides in Sonoma County coastal areas as they are having large negative impacts on our raptors and other wild carnivores in addition to sensitive watersheds.