SONOMA COUNTY (BCN) — The Russian River’s inflatable rubber dam near Forestville is being replaced for the first time since 1995, with construction starting Monday and continuing until mid-October. As a result, boating access will be closed around the area throughout the summer.

Public signage will be posted around the river to alert boaters about the closure. The next public access point will be downstream at Steelhead Beach Regional Park.

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Fishing is also prohibited within 250 feet of the dam in both directions, per the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The dam is usually in use during the spring or summer as potable water demands increase. When inflated, water from the river pools and goes into Sonoma Water’s infiltration ponds. This water is used to replenish groundwater supplies, which eventually serve more than 600,000 Sonoma and Marin county residents.

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This week, state water officials issued an order to limit flow requirements in the Russian River in efforts to preserve storage in Lake Sonoma. The river is said to be in a severe drought, and water officials may initiate more changes if Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma water levels begin to diminish further.

Residents can read more information about the county’s response to drought conditions at sonomawater.org.

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