Chapter 8: Sonoma Creek
Chapter 8 of “Our Watershed Stories” starts off near California’s northernmost Mission: "Mission San Francisco Solano" in the town of Napa, California.
“The mission was founded in 1823,” explains Arthur Dawson, an ecological historian, “and when Father Altamira first got here he said, ‘Sonoma es un manantial a manantiales: Sonoma is a fountain of fountain or a spring of springs.’”
Dawson’s job is to track the changes to the Valley’s watershed over the centuries. He recalls a description of the Valley from George Simpson: There were ditches crisscrossing the valley in every direction, and it was the most impressive display of human labor he’d seen anywhere in California. And this is 1842!”
Amongst the vineyards, 20,000 people now call the Sonoma Valley watershed home. All of these people affect the watershed through the course of living their ordinary lives—even flushing the toilet.
This brings the story to Brian Anderson, operations coordinator for the Sonoma Valley Treatment plant, a facility operated by the Sonoma County Water Agency. “Wastewater comes from household domestic use as well as business and industrial users, he says, “and it makes it way to our treatment plant.”
Anderson’s job is to recycle this wastewater. “The purpose,” he says, “is to put water back into the environment.”
Brian’s work proves that a watershed is far more than just rain falling onto the land and flowing into the sea. “What goes on in the watershed directly affects what goes on in the creek,” he says. We all affect the watershed we call home, whether we realize it or not. “And all of nature lives there.”