Heavy rain prompts water agency to deflate Russian River dam

By Bay City News Service

An inflatable dam on the Russian River near Forestville will be taken down starting today to protect residents downstream and to protect the dam, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said.

Crews already began deflating the dam, something that's done regularly when flows on the river reach 2,000 cubic feet per second.

Earlier today the flow was 455 cfs, but it is expected to increase significantly Tuesday and Wednesday with today's heavy rains, agency officials said.

The dam, which is just downstream of the Wohler Bridge, rests on the bottom of the river when it's deflated.

The dam is normally raised in the spring and early summer when the demand for water increases. It adds to the agency's well levels in the area.

Agency officials said an underwater video system, which counts migrating salmon and steelhead trout, will not be able to count the fish when the dam is down.

So far this season, the agency has counted 1,892 Chinook salmon, 129 steelhead trout and 60

Coho salmon, however, not all the video footage has been reviewed nor has the count been verified.

Agency officials said even though rain has returned, they are encouraging people to conserve water, with suggestions including deactivating irrigation systems and repairing leaky faucets and toilets.