Sonoma Water Begins Installation of Crucial Rubber Dam in Russian River to Aid Over 600,000 Residents

Sonoma Water Begins Installation of Crucial Rubber Dam in Russian River to Aid Over 600,000 Residents

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) has embarked on a significant project to install a rubber dam in the Russian River, beginning this Monday.

This multi-day installation is set to provide naturally filtered drinking water to over 600,000 residents in portions of Sonoma and Marin Counties and support marine life conservation efforts.

Location and Public Notices

The rubber dam is strategically located downstream of the Wohler Bridge on the Russian River. To ensure public safety and awareness, Sonoma Water has posted notices around the rubber dam area.

These notices inform boaters and canoers of the necessity to carry or move their vessels around the dam and advise fishers to maintain a distance of at least 250 feet upstream or downstream from the dam, as stipulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Function and Benefits of the Rubber Dam

Once fully inflated, the rubber dam creates a pool of water that Sonoma Water uses for four off-stream infiltration ponds.

These ponds play a crucial role in recharging groundwater, which is naturally filtered before being delivered to Sonoma Water customers.

The rubber dam is typically inflated in the spring or early summer, aligning with the increased demand for potable water during these seasons.

Enhancing Fish Migration

A notable feature of the rubber dam is its integration with a permanent fish ladder, which facilitates the migration of adult salmon and steelhead.

This fish ladder is equipped with an underwater video system that allows officials to monitor and count the migrating fish, ensuring that the dam’s presence does not hinder the natural fish migration patterns.

Installation Process

The process of inflating the rubber dam can take up to two weeks, depending on river flows. The installation is a meticulous task, requiring careful monitoring and adjustments to ensure the dam’s optimal performance.

The multi-day installation reflects Sonoma Water’s commitment to providing reliable and sustainable water resources to the region.

Impact on Local Activities

During the installation period, local activities such as boating, canoeing, and fishing will be affected.

Boaters and canoers are advised to carry or move their vessels around the dam, while fishers are required to maintain a safe distance from the dam to prevent any disruption to the installation process and ensure their safety.

Supporting Community and Environment

The rubber dam’s installation is a critical step in supporting the community’s water needs and environmental conservation.

By creating a reliable source of naturally filtered drinking water and supporting marine life, the dam serves a dual purpose that benefits both residents and the ecosystem.


The installation of the rubber dam in the Russian River by Sonoma Water marks a significant milestone in the region’s efforts to provide sustainable water resources and conserve marine life.

This project underscores the importance of innovative infrastructure in meeting the water needs of over 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin Counties while also safeguarding the natural habitat of the river’s marine life.

As the installation progresses, the community can look forward to enhanced water security and continued support for local wildlife.