Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Laguna de Santa Rosa

Laguna de Santa Rosa

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Watershed Overview

Current & Past RCD Programs:


  • The RCD has worked with many agricultural producers in the Laguna to enhance their farming operations and protect soil and water resources.
  • A past and current focus of the RCD’s work in the Laguna has been nutrient management on dairies. Since the mid-1990’s, the RCD has worked with local dairy producers to install gutters to divert clean water, fencing for beneficial livestock distribution, manure management facilities and more. Recent grant funding has allowed the RCD to assist dairies with compliance with the upcoming North Coast Dairy Waiver and Waste Discharge Requirements, and to undertake another round of nutrient management planning and implementation.
  • The RCD has worked with many other livestock facilities including equine or horse, sheep, pigs, goats and chicken facilities to develop LandSmart plans to protect and improve water quality and achieve the landowners’ property management goals. Over 1,800 acres of livestock property have been assessed in this watershed.

Water Resource Management

  • Sonoma RCD is an active member of the groundwater management planning effort in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. This includes participating in the Basin Advisory Panel (BAP), a diverse group of stakeholders in the watershed, as well as providing input through the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The group is currently focusing on expanding and refining the groundwater level monitoring program and providing input on the hydro-geologic model being developed to investigate the basin’s water budget and potential future impacts to the aquifer under different climatological and land use scenarios. As a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is being formed for the basin, as required by California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, The BAP and TAC are actively discussing how to maintain the momentum and work done to date, and integrate with the newly forming agency.
  • Slow it, Spread It, Sink It, Store It!” practices are implemented with landowners throughout the watershed. These practices can help to protect and replenish groundwater resources, reduce erosion and pollution, prevent flooding and increase water conservation and stormwater management.
  • The RCD is closely involved in a statewide groundwater monitoring effort called the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program. This program was created by SBx7 6 and established for the first time a statewide program to collect groundwater elevations, facilitate collaboration between local monitoring entities and the Department of Water Resources, and to report this information to the public. The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) and the County Permit Resource Management Department have assumed responsibility for collecting these data in the basins throughout Sonoma County. The RCD is in the process of finalizing a contract with the Water Agency (as of Summer 2016) to conduct outreach in the Santa Rosa Plain groundwater basin to gain landowner participation in the CASGEM program and then to collect groundwater elevation data for these various wells covering the basin. Groundwater data are collected on local landowner wells twice a year in the various basins and reported back to the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Department of Water Resources.
  • The RCD is currently conducting groundwater elevation monitoring for the local residents that are in a two mile radius of the new Graton Rancheria Casino and Hotel Resort in Rohnert Park. The RCD was hired by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, upon recommendation from the County of Sonoma and the Sonoma County Water Agency, to create a voluntary groundwater monitoring program and collect baseline data for the residents that could potentially be affected by drawdown of the water table from the new Casino and Hotel's water use. 

On-the-Ground Projects

  • Water Quality Credit Trading: The RCD, in collaboration with consultants, partners and local agricultural landowners, has begun the process of developing a Water Quality Credit Trading market for the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. Water Quality Credit Trading is an innovative approach to achieve water quality goals and regulatory requirements by the purchase of pollution reduction “credits” from other sources, including water quality management practices on agricultural lands.In 2014-2016 the RCD worked with a local dairy producer and the City of Santa Rosa on the first nutrient offset project in the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed. The project involved several water quality practices to reduce potential nutrient loading in to the Laguna such as increased riparian buffers, clean water diversions and improved manure management. For more information about WQCT, please visit

  • Dairy Water Quality Improvement Projects: In collaboration with Gold Ridge RCD, the RCD has worked with many dairy producers to implement projects and practices to reduce nutrient loading into the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed. Projects included nutrient management evaluation, clean water diversions, irrigation system improvements, manure management improvements, soil amending and fencing projects.
  • Habitat Enhacement: With the participation of riparian landowners, the RCD has ongoing projects to enhance riparian habitat and remove invasive species in the Laguna de Santa Rosa and its tributaries.

Agricultural and Environmental Education


  • LandSmart Workshop series for agriculturalists and professionals are held as needed by the community.
  • FARMS Leadership Program field days are held annually on private agricultural properties within the watershed.
  • TEAM elementary youth program field trip site located within this watershed serving fourth graders throughout Sonoma County.

Links to other important organizations and programs in the watershed:

Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation
Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation – Knowledgebase
Gold Ridge RCD:
Town of Windsor:
City of Santa Rosa Creek Stewardship Program
City of Rohnert Park:
City of Cotati:
Western United Dairymen
Sonoma County Water Agency
Cotati Creek Critters (CCC)
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria
Open Space Water Resource Protection Land Use (O.W.L. Foundation)
Russian Riverkeeper
Sonoma State University
RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service:
Natural Resources Conservation Service:
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program:
United States Army Corps of Engineers:
United States Department of Agriculture:
United States Environmental Protection Agency:
United States Fish & Wildlife Service:
California Coastal Conservancy:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
California Regional Water Quality Control Boards, North Coast Region:
California State Water Resources Control Board:
University of California Cooperative Extension:
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District:
Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works:
Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department:
Sonoma County Public Health Division:
Sonoma County Regional Parks Department:
Sonoma County Water Agency:
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner:
Sonoma County Farm Bureau:
Sonoma County Farm Trails:
Sonoma County Winegrape Commission:
Sonoma Land Trust:
California Waterfowl Association:
Community Alliance of Family Farmers:
Ducks Unlimited:
Your Wetlands - A project of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture:

For more information about the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed, please contact Valerie Minton at 707.569.1448 ext 102 or