Bodega Pilot Program

History and Purpose

Authors: A. Crawford and L. Hammack

In 2004, the Bodega Pilot Program (BPP) was envisioned by a group of Salmon Creek residents who, having seen the creek’s flows dip precariously in the summer months, understood that an effective rehabilitation strategy for the creek was possible because the Salmon Creek Watershed contained a fertile mix of landowners who wanted to improve the health of their watershed, threatened species, and a local water utility in need of infrastructure improvements. These residents also understood that the relatively small size of the watershed made it a manageable area in which innovative water conservation measures could be implemented and the effectiveness of those measures in improving instream flows could be monitored (pers. comm. B. Cluer 3/19/10).

Over the last five years, the original BPP vision has guided many planning efforts in the watershed and funding has been secured for projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of rainwater harvesting, water conservation, and enhanced storage capacity to reduce extractive demands on streamflow during dry season months and improve fish habitat conditions. By demonstrating the link between conservation and instream flows, the BPP provides a model to other communities and landowners along salmonid rearing streams.

Ongoing BPP success depends upon multiple factors, including:

  • BPP participants receive benefits in the form of greater water security and/or a cost-effective water supply.
  • The BPP is developed and implemented in a manner that replaces, rather than augments, extractive water supply. Water supply savings must be retained in the stream or groundwater table during the dry season.
  • The volume of water supplied by rainwater harvesting and increased storage are maximized for a given location (well or pump) to either replace an extractive source or measurably reduce withdrawals from the extractive source.
  • Streamflow and groundwater extractions at a location (well or pump) are reduced from existing pre-BPP conditions, the reductions are documented annually, and the amounts are commensurate with volumes generated by alternative sources and storage improvements.
  • The benefits and requirements of the BPP are clearly articulated so that participation occurs with full “buy-in” for a long-term commitment.
  • Details of BPP participation are understood and supported by the larger community.
  • Participants receive ongoing support to maintain and utilize their alternative water sources.
  • Agreements are made between funding agencies, resource management agencies, water suppliers and/or landowners that are pragmatic, comprehensive, and enforceable.
  • An implementation monitoring BPP is developed to track actual reductions in extractions over time and compliance with agreements.

 Bodega Water Company Planning Process

Authors: A. Crawford and L. Hammack

The town of Bodega is considered a disadvantaged community, with some of the highest water rates in the state. Early Bodega residents utilized springs and wells and drew water from the creek. In 1981, the town’s first centralized water system, the Bodega Water Company (BWC), was created to supply water to a golf course that, ultimately, was never constructed (pers. comm. A. Bleifus 3/26/10; BWC Articles of Incorporation). In the course of planning for this development, local residents were invited to join the nascent company. Today, BWC is a member-owned, mutual benefit corporation that supplies potable water to 39 hookups within the Bodega Valley. BWC is one of the larger single users of Salmon Creek water in Bodega Valley, as the majority of their water supply comes from a shallow “gallery” well adjacent to Salmon Creek. The depth of this well is only slightly lower than the streambed and is considered by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to be drawing from shallow groundwater feeding Salmon Creek. BWC has two other deep groundwater wells that are limited in their production and have water quality issues.

BWC has applied for an appropriative water right for their well; however, the terms of this water right preclude the use of the well during the dry season. BWC has been seeking alternate water sources and storage options to reduce the use of the well in order to comply with DWR’s terms for their appropriative water right.

BWC’s proximity to Salmon Creek and need to explore alternate water supply options offer a unique and powerful opportunity to demonstrate the important role local water utilities can play in fisheries restoration. Because BWC is an all-volunteer, member-based organization, their ongoing involvement in the SCWCP depends on the professional technical support the SCC has funded through this SCWCP.

SCWCP partners Virginia Porter and PCI have worked closely with BWC to assess the company’s infrastructure, analyze supply and demand data, and develop long-term strategies for water conservation measures and alternative supply options that will produce a reliable, sustainable water supply. Based on this assessment, Virginia Porter presented recommendations to the BWC Board for upgrading and repairing elements of the BWC water system, as well as conservation and other measures BWC members can take that will contribute to supply sustainability.

Rainwater Catchment System Design and Implementation

Authors: A. Crawford and L. Hammack

One recommendation in the Salmon Creek Estuary Study and Recommendations (PCI 2006) was to support local domestic water providers in securing offstream water storage and/or new water sources to reduce summer withdrawals from Salmon Creek. In 2008, during the course of the Water Conservation Program planning, the project team developed a framework for installing rainwater catchment systems throughout the watershed, in both upland areas and critical reaches of Salmon Creek. The information gathered during the BWC planning process provided an important demonstration of the instream improvement potential if rainwater catchment systems were strategically installed in critical reaches.

In 2009, the opportunity arose to apply, through the NOAA Restoration Center, for implementation funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Utilizing the BWC data, SCWCP partners PCI and GRRCD developed the Save Our Salmon (SOS) proposal for this NOAA ARRA funding, and GRRCD was awarded funds to install the rainwater catchment systems listed below.

For more information on this program, see

  • One tank at the new Bodega Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD) firehouseBVFD has often relied on treated BWC water from a shallow riparian well for emergency uses. This 38,000-gallon tank will provide an alternative source of water for department training, fire suppression, and community emergency uses.
  • Residential property roofwater catchment systemsUp to 22 tanks will be installed; the actual number of tanks will depend on the individual needs of residential properties. These tanks will replace approximately 200,000 gallons of treated water from a shallow riparian well and be used for summer non-potable irrigation and livestock watering.
  • Underground storage tank on an agricultural propertyThis 230,000-gallon capacity tank will collect and store roofwater for summer cattle watering, replacing the use of a shallow riparian well and direct stream withdrawals.

This implementation funding is an important step forward in demonstrating the link between winter water storage and improved spring and summer instream flows in Salmon Creek. The NOAA ARRA funding is also supporting a 2-year ecological effectiveness monitoring program for the grant activities; the results of this monitoring will inform local and regional future projects.

In addition to the tanks funded by the NOAA ARRA grant, the Bodega Pilot Program will benefit from additional installation of catchment systems on residential and agricultural properties in the town of Bodega and in Bodega Valley.

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