On September 20, 2011 the State Water Board adopted a Frost Protection Regulation for the Russian River Watershed. The Regulation provides that, with exception of diversions upstream of Warm Springs Dam in Sonoma County or Coyote Dam in Mendocino County, any diversion of water from the Russian River stream system, including the pumping of hydrologically connected groundwater for purposes of frost protection from March 15 through May 15, shall be diverted in accordance with a board-approved Water Demand Management Program (WDMP). The diversion of water in violation of this regulation would be an unreasonable method of diversion and use and a violation of Water Code section 100. The Regulation requires any WDMP to manage the instantaneous demand on the Russian River stream system during frost events to prevent stranding and mortality of salmonids.

*From State Water Board Website



The North Coast Water Coalition was founded in December, 2014 to work with individual landowners, members of the Russian River Property Owners Association (RRPOA), and the Russian River Water Conservation Council (RRWCC) to comply with the California State Water Board's Russian River Frost Protection Regulation.

Currently the North Coast Water Coalition (NCWC) represents grape growers from these two groups, and non-affiliated growers throughout Sonoma County.  Our primary goal is to fulfill the regulatory mandate and to do so in a cost-efficient manner that provides as much protection for landowner-generated data as possible.

Staff of the North Coast Water Coalition, Cort Munselle and Philip Wasem have worked with grape growers for over a decade in meeting regulatory requirements.  Cort Munselle is a Civil Engineer and Philip Wasem has a technical background and training in implementation of Water Demand Management Programs and experience in consultation requirements of the regulatory agencies.

Frost Protection Program Click to enlarge or print


In response to the 2014 District Court of Appeals' decision to reinstate the Russian River Frost Protection Regulation, two grape growing groups, the Russian River Water Conservation Council (RRWCC) and the Russian River Property Owners Association (RRPOA), submitted a Water Demand Management Program (WDMP) for participating landowners.  The North Coast Water Coalition was asked by these two groups to provide ongoing services to their members, and willing non-member grape growers, to implement a program for filing and developing the WDMP to ensure compliance with the Regulation.


The NCWC began providing services to vineyard owner/ managers for compliance with the Russian River Frost Protection Regulation in January of 2015.  Consistent with a request from the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) the NCWC created a single, collective Water Demand Management Program (WDMP) for enrolling Sonoma County vineyards that use water for frost protection.

NCWC contracted with a joint governing committee of the Russian River Water Conservation Council (RRWCC) for provision of services to meet the requirements of the Regulation.  The joint governing committee is comprised of members of the RRWCC and the Russian River Property Owners Association (RRPOA).  Funding for compliance with the Regulation comes from participation assessments of $3 per frost-protected acre.