Coming Together

Don McInHillChapter 1 of “Our Watershed Stories,” begins in Sonoma County, where we’ll meet Don McInhill, the Russian Riverkeeper. “No matter where you live, you’re connected to a river or a lake or the ocean, and what you do at your house affects those water bodies because of the way we built our cities,” McInhill says.

It makes sense that the riverkeeper knows a thing or two about watersheds: but why are they so important?

Kate Wilson“Before I started getting involved with water issues, I didn’t even know where my water came from,” notes Kate Wilson, a Sonoma County resident who works with McInhill on river issues.  “Like many people, you just turn on the tap and there’s the water and you don’t think much about it.

“The Russian River provides drinking water for over 600,000 people, all the way down into Marin.”

“It looks like a highly natural river,” McInhill adds.  “The reality is we have two major dams on this river.  We also have water that’s diverted from the watershed north of us in the Eel River into the Russian to augment our water supplies.”

Fish Biologist Bill Hearn of the National Marine Fisheries Service, says, “The Russian River is a major watershed and it historically supported Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and Steelhead.  Their numbers were dramatically reduced because of all kinds of impacts.”

Now, we’re finally learning to celebrate the Russian as a resource: both for nature, and for recreation!  Points out McInhill, “If the Russian River wasn’t here, we would not have this community that we do today.”

Original Website

Our Watershed Stories: Chapter 1 of 9
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Sonoma County Water Agency


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© 2012 KRCB – North Bay Public Media. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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Length: 1 minute, 30 seconds