aerial view of russian river in the fall

What To Expect When Visiting Sonoma County During the California Drought

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For those who’ve visited or who are familiar with Sonoma County, it’s no secret of the importance and preciousness of our water resource. Sonoma County, after all, is home to 55 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline and hundreds of miles of meandering rivers and several lakes. And that preciousness of our water resource has never been so important, as Sonoma County, like most of California, is in a drought.

As the destination stewardship organization for Sonoma County, we’re committed to protecting this place that we all love and ask travelers to join us. Don't we all want to keep this beautiful destination and its resources around for generations to enjoy? Below, you’ll find information about the current California drought, as well as Sonoma County travel tips as you plan your trip.

California Drought: What To Expect

Recently, the California governor declared a drought emergency across most of California. The state’s drought declaration follows a winter in which most of California has experienced an extremely dry winter with a significant lack of rainfall. This doesn’t mean that there’s no water in Sonoma County, or that you’ll have trouble finding water when you need it. However, it does mean that some of your favorite places, like Lake Sonoma and the Russian River, may look a little different in places this year. These same iconic locations are also what thousands of locals, restaurants, wineries, and hotels depend on for their water supply.

Picture of Lake Sonoma from overhead at sunset
Lake Sonoma

So what does a drought mean for your Sonoma County trip? Ultimately, it shouldn’t change what we hope is an amazing time discovering the beauty and bounty of Sonoma County. Yet we want to make sure visitors are informed in an effort to minimize water waste, thereby preserving the water supply that nearly 500,000 residents depend on. As Sonoma County’s official destination stewardship organization, we’re asking visitors to join us in being stewards of this beautiful destination.

Sonoma County Travel Tips

Turn off the tap

While this may sound so elementary, this goes beyond just turning off the faucet after you've washed your hands. Turning off the tap while scrubbing dishes, brushing your teeth or shaving is one of the easiest, most proactive things that you can do to conserve water. This small act, when done by hundreds, if not thousands of people, can result in significant water conservation.

Double check faucets

According to the EPA, household leaks account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. So whenever you’re in your hotel room, a restaurant bathroom or public restroom, we ask you to double check the faucets to make sure they’re turned off. If you notice a leak, whether at a business or local park, we ask you to report it to staff so they can have it fixed right away.

Take shorter showers, fewer baths

Nothing says self-care like a long, relaxing bath or shower after a day of adventures. Believe us, especially after the past year, we take good hygiene and cleanliness seriously. However, we’re asking visitors to be mindful when cleaning up.

Reuse Your Towels

In that same line of thought, we’re asking visitors to use their hotel towels like they would at home. We, too, often want to just throw our towel on the bathroom floor as soon as we’ve dried off. But that’s a cue for housekeeping to wash it. So we’re asking visitors, within reason, to reuse their towels when possible.

Know before you go

picture of family walking with kayak in a river

As we mentioned before, some of your favorite Sonoma County places, like Lake Sonoma and the Russian River, may look a little bit different this year. Water levels are lower, which means that floating or paddling down the Russian River and exploring Sonoma County’s waterways may be a different experience. We recommend doing some research before your trip about current water conditions. If renting a kayak, for example, you may want to check with the kayak company first regarding safety and water conditions.

Dine and Wine Taste Responsibly

Finally, we ask travelers to eat and drink responsibly. Many restaurants and wineries, for example, will ask you if you’d like a glass of water, before serving it to you. However, you may want to inquire ahead of time. If you know you won’t need a glass of water, then let your server know.

Last, but not least, we ask visitors to sign our Travel Kindly Pledge, and in doing so commit to making a positive impact to our destination and local communities when they visit Sonoma County. We are excited to welcome you to Sonoma County, where Life Opens Up.

Picture of man carrying tray of water with a mask on