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Water districts vote to join forces By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN The Daily Journal

RVCWD and RRFC&WCID committees to discuss annexation. After receiving a positive reaction from the public, the boards of both the Redwood Valley County Water District and the Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District voted to move forward with a merger of sorts. "I thought it was very favorably received," said Bill Koehler, general manager of the RVCWD, referring to a public meeting Wednesday morning at the Barra tasting room where the two boards discussed combining forces in order to negotiate with the Sonoma County Water Agency for more water rights for Redwood Valley. "There were about 20 to 25 people, and the comments from the public were very favorable."

appropriate payment they can make to get a guaranteed water supply," he said, adding that the district will be holding public meetings in addition to its regularly scheduled business meetings. Sean White, manager of the RRFC&WCID, said "We've been looking for a longterm solution for getting a reliable water supply for Redwood Valley for a long time. Over the years there have been contracts for Redwood Valley, but none of them have been an actual permanent solution to the situation." Currently, White said RVCWD buys "surplus water from the (RRFC & WCID), but the district's demand has risen, and the surplus will eventually be none."

Koehler said both boards voted unanimously to "proceed with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin negotiations as a unified entity." He said the process of combining the two districts would be an annexation, and they would "re-form as a new entity."

White said the RVCWD previously had a contract to purchase surplus water from the SCWA, but the contract expired several years ago.

As to how that would take place, he said "we don't know yet; the process is so slow and so cumbersome, and can be stopped by a concerted effort by the public, so we wanted to make sure that both boards have educated the public, and the public supports what we're doing."

White said the two districts would be "taking resources that both agencies have and putting together what we hope is a successful proposal to purchase water rights (from SCWA)," in what he described as "a permanent transfer" that would establish a reliable water supply for Redwood Valley.

Koehler said so far, members of the public have expressed the same concerns about an annexation as the districts' board members, which are "everybody wants to make sure that everybody is carrying their own weight, that nobody is subsidizing anybody else. "(However), we're going to have to incur some indebtedness, and we're going to have to sit down with our customers to determine what they feel is the

Koehler said he believed the timing was right to acquire more water rights for Redwood Valley because of several factors, including "a new spirit of cooperation between (RVCWD and RRFC & WCID), a change in management at the SCWA, and a pending change in the operation of the Russian River," explaining that if the flow of water in the river is reduced, more water will be available in Lake Mendocino.

Justine Frederiksen can be reached at, or 468-3521.

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