Salmon Creek Dairy

Water Conservation and Storage Project

One of the year’s largest construction projects is the Salmon Creek Dairy Water Conservation Project on the Westview Jersey’s Organic Dairy operated by Richard and Marilyn Hughes in the Salmon Creek Watershed. Dairies are currently both significant water users, forced to draw from sources influencing riparian flows, and integral contributors to the agriculture-based economy of their surrounding communities. This project further advances the RCD’s expanding water conservation program: our goal is to provide immediate benefits to riparian systems while advancing technologies to prepare our communities for a future that has less predictable rainfall patterns.

This water conservation project will transition the dairy’s summertime water source from a shallow creekside well to a rainwater roof-catchment pond. When all is done, the project will harvest winter rainwater caught from the roofs of five structures with sufficient capacity to store the entire summer demand for the organic dairy operation. Implementation of this project addresses the impacts of one of the largest individual water diversions on the mainstem of Salmon Creek. It prevents the extraction of approximately 1,408,000 gallons of water from the stream during the critical summer/fall dry season.

Watch the video -- The Making of the Westview Jersey Dairy Water Conservation Project

To the fish of Salmon Creek, this project is a small step toward survival. In the summer, surface water is scarce, especially in the Salmon Creek Watershed. Typically dry summer seasons have been extending; in the fall of 2015, Salmon Creek did not reconnect surface flow until November rains hit. Next summer, we hope this project will alleviate the extending drought season by conserving approximately 7,000 gallons of water for fish in Salmon Creek each summer day.

By itself, 7,000 gallons per day will not have a large impact on streamflow, as it equates to only about .01 cubic feet per second of flow. However, the Salmon Creek Dairy project has been designed and implemented in conjunction with multiple other streamflow enhancement projects throughout the Bodega Valley, including the Gilardi Ranch 235,000-gallon rainwater catchment project (implemented in 2010), seven residential and small agricultural-scale rainwater catchment projects (implemented in 2010), and seven additional rainwater projects (implemented in 2015). The goal of the RCD’s streamflow enhancement program is to provide enough additional water in the stream to keep it flowing throughout the dry season, particularly during drought years. Juvenile coho salmon and steelhead have a much better chance of survival if the stream’s riffles have even a small amount of water flowing over them. Riffles introduce oxygen into the water (a highly important element of good salmon habitat) and the gravel in riffles sort out finer sediments that would smother salmon eggs.

Our contractors on this project include Prunuske Chatham, Inc. (rain water catchment system design and specifications), RGH Consultants (rain water catchment system geotechnical investigation), and Schaefer Engineers (pond construction and rainwater catchment system installation). This project uses state funds from California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, the California State Coastal Conservancy, and the California Department of Water Resources. Special thanks to our partners at the North Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council for their support on this project!

Project Manager: William Hart,, (707) 823-5244.

© 2016 GRRCD 2776 Sullivan Rd., Sebastopol, CA 95472. All rights reserved.