Monday, July 25, 2016

Shallow Waters: How a first-of-its kind regional partnership could save the San Rafael Canal and Petaluma River

As a resident of Petaluma and regular reader of the (weekly) Petaluma Argus-Courier, I'm very aware of the dire shape the Petaluma River is in in regards to dredging. Dredging funds have all but dried up, businesses and boaters have been impacted, the river continues to fill with silt year after year, and no solution is in sight. The San Rafael Canal isn't in much better shape, though it's much smaller and has less commercial traffic. Then there's the Napa River, which finally found some funding for a dredge this year but is, generally speaking, in the same boat (nice pun!).

That's why local agencies in Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties have decided to band together to plead their case as one to the Army Corps of Engineers, which historically -- for many decades, in fact -- has been responsible for funding and arranging the dredging of each individual waterway. The proposed new approach would involve dredging all North Bay shallow-draft waterways at once, on a regular schedule, with some potential financial contributions from local governments. The hope is that between the improved efficiencies and economics of scale and partial local financial support, all parties involved will be able to settle the matter once and for all (or at least for the next few decades) and get these waterways back in navigable shape.

Read more -- and specifically about the situation down at the San Rafael Canal -- in my article in the Aug 2016 issue of Marin Magazine.