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Redwood Valley’s Water District ‘Cannot and Has Never Been Able to Provide Water Security to Its Customers’—Grand Jury Report

The following is a summary of a report composed by the Mendocino County Grand Jury:

A waterway in Redwood Valley[Photo by afletch4141 via their Flickr account]

The Redwood Valley County Water District (RVCWD) cannot and has never been able to provide water security to its customers. The RVCWD does not have sufficient water rights or water resources to serve its current customers. Due to these deficiencies, since 1989 the RVCWD is currently under a court moratorium that does not allow the addition of another residential customer. The RWCWD has further self-imposed a limitation on new agricultural connections. There is no current water allocation to agricultural customers. At this time, the health and human safety needs of the RVCWD’s domestic customers are being met with purchased water from the Millview County Water District (MCWD).

When the RVCWD was formed in 1964, they had no water rights. In January 1956 the residents of Redwood Valley voted to reject participation in the Coyote Valley Dam project. The other voters in the affected Upper Russian River basin approved the project and the formation of the Russian River Flood Control District (RRFCD). The RRFCD administers the 8,000 annual acre feet (AF/year) of storage water in Lake Mendocino allocated to Mendocino County.

In the early 1970’s, Federal no-interest loans were available through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Small Projects Act to fund western states water projects. The RVCWD needed assured water supplies to access the funding. A Memorandum of Guarantees (MoG) with RRFCD for excess/uncontracted water from Mendocino County’s 8,000 AF/year of Lake Mendocino water allowed the RVCWD to pursue district voter approval and apply for the Federal funds. The MoG led to the current stipulated judgment that allows access to RRFC uncontracted water.

The RVCWD had two outstanding voter approved Federal loans from 1975 and 1980 which totaled $7.3 million. These Bureau of Reclamation loans paid for the following infrastructure: a water treatment plant, both a domestic and separate agricultural water distribution network, limited water storage and a system to pump water directly from Lake Mendocino. As of August 2021, the unpaid principal balance on the loan was $6.85 million.

The entire report is posted at:


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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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