Plan to reduce flooding, recharge groundwater

A plan to reduce flooding in Fryer Creek while recharging groundwater in the city of Sonoma will be discussed at a community meeting on Wednesday, January 29.

The project, centered on a retention basin in an existing Montini Preserve pasture, is funded in part by a $1.9 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources. It will capture rainwater during large storms, allowing the water to slow and sink into the ground before going into Fryer Creek. The project will also reduce downstream flood risks, officials said.

Residents are encouraged to learn more at the 6 p.m. meeting at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.

The Fryer Creek project could serve as a model throughout Sonoma Valley, which, said Supervisor Susan Gorin, “suffers from too much water during big storms and not enough groundwater during dry periods.”

The $1.9 million “City Watersheds of Sonoma Valley” award was awarded in the fall by the California Department of Water Resources, which administers funding from Proposition 1E, approved by voters in 2006.

The Water Agency and Open Space District partnered with the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Ecology Center in developing the project, which will be located on the Montini Preserve.

“The beauty of this project is that it will be designed using a natural basin, following the curves of the land,” said Richard Dale, executive director of the Sonoma Ecology Center. “The pasture will be re-planted after construction and neighbors and passers-by will only notice it during those few days a year when there are heavy rains. The rest of the year it will continue to be used as rangeland with same pasture views.”

A second project component will include replacement or modification of a culvert on Fryer Creek, at MacArthur Street, that will reduce flood risks and eliminate a barrier to fish migration. The total cost is projected at $4.1 million.

Stage one of the project, soil testing using a drill rig, began last month.

Groundwater recharge is prime component in a series of actions identified in the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Plan, which was prepared in 2007 by local stakeholders.

“The 2005 New Years Flood woke us up to the risks faced in Sonoma,” said Councilmember Ken Brown. “Projects like this will make the community safer for everyone.”


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