To Promote the Health, Welfare and Safety of our Communities by Advocating for Responsible Planning
to Insure Sustainability of the Finite Resources of Napa County.

Welcome to Napa Vision 2050


Our Napa Valley by Hardy Wilson Looking west across the Capell Valley towards Walt Ranch whose ridgetops are to be stripped of trees to make room for grapes.
Napa Vision 2050 is a coalition of 14 affiliates in Napa County that have joined together to lobby local governments on current development policies and practices.

As an IRC 501(C)(4) public benefit corporation, it is our mission to Promote the Health, Welfare and Safety of our Communities by Advocating for Responsible Planning to Insure Sustainability of the Finite Resources of Napa County.

You are always invited to visit us on facebook for the latest updates as well.

15 posts 

HELICOPTER LANDINGS IN NAPA COUNTY


George Caloyannidis - Feb 23, 2017   Share


In 2004, Constant Diamond Mountain Winery and a Wine Country Helicopter operator filed an application for a landing use permit, arguing that winery helicopter landings would provide an economic benefit to the county and have a minimal contribution to traffic reduction. Thanks to the efforts of one Napa Vision 2050 Board Member, the supervisors were not convinced and made such landings illegal, under Napa County, Ordinance # P 04-0198-ORD, enacted June 15, 2004. This ordinance effectively prevented an entire new industry of helicopter operators from crisscrossing the sky and disrupting the Napa Valley scenic and quiet agricultural environment.

BUT NOW WE ARE FACING A MUCH MORE PERVASIVE BATTLE:

Currently, there is a private use helicopter application for a Landing Use Permit on Hagen Road in Napa (UP# P14-000261) making its way through the process at the County with the scheduled hearing at the Planning Commission on March 1, 2017. Private use helicopters are solely for private recreational or convenience purposes with only negative impacts on the public on a variety of fronts, including risks of accidents, which helicopters are prone to, higher CO2 emissions and, especially, noise pollution . Absolutely nothing justifies their use.

Currently there are helipads on Diamond Mountain, Pritchard Hill, Hennessey Ridge and reported landings at the above locations and on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga and Atlas Peak Road. All are illegal. Many other landings are also reported taking place around the county due to lack of enforcement . All are waiting for Palmaz approval, which will open the door for them.

If this first use permit is granted, hundreds of wealthy homeowners will follow. Air taxi operators may also avail themselves of the business opportunity.

If this sounds farfetched, Uber tested this model during the recent Aspen Festival. The sure to follow proliferation of helicopter flights over the Napa valley skies will drive the final nail to our peace and quiet environment.

Stop private heliports in Napa County! Show up at the March 1, 2017, hearing, 9 am, and voice your objection. County Administration Building, 3rd and Coombs Street, Napa, CA.

Sign the Napa Vision 2050 petition opposing private heliports in the county here.

Ubercoptors? Heli-no!

Urgent: Last Chance to Make your Public Comment on the Climate Action Plan!


Jim Wilson - Feb 21, 2017   Share


URGENT: Napa County's Climate Action Plan is nearing completion. If it becomes a reality, we'll be stuck with yet another "half-way measure" that places short term profit over the long term health and well-being of our dangerously compromised climate. This is outrageous.

Thursday, February 23, is the final public meeting on Napa County's Climate Action Plan (CAP). The county has contracted with Ascent Environmental to prepare a Climate Action Plan detailing measures that the county will take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in alignment with state targets. This document can be critical to our efforts to control regional warming or it can be a drain on time and resources if it supports business as usual.

Unfortunately, our CAP is being finalized using antiquated measuring standards at a time when both the State and our regional air district (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) are shifting focus to “short-lived climate pollutants” which have a much greater warming effect than CO2 ((e.g. Methane, Black Carbon, F-gases and Ozone). Methane is 34 times more powerful and black carbon 900 times more powerful than CO2. Their global warming potential is even higher in the near term (ten years) when we still have a chance to postpone irreversible climate tipping points. We need to focus where GHG reductions can be most effective because the CAP will determine what future measures developers take to reduce emissions-- so let's make sure we get it right!

The CAP will require projects to comply with a dead-on-arrival GHG Consistency Checklist. Projects that comply are eligible for CEQA streamlining and need not analyze their GHG emissions. But this Checklist will not be prepared in time for in-depth public comment. Nor will it comply with recent GHG laws and regulations.

DRAFT CLIMATE ACTION PLAN DEFICIENCIES:

CAP fails to provide feasible forest conversion mitigation.
CAP fails to account for any wetlands and soil conversion GHG emissions.
CAP fails to fully account for winery and vineyard operations GHG emissions.
CAP fails to fully account for visitation GHG emissions.
CAP fails to provide adaptive management monitoring standards as required by CEQA.
CAP fails to comply with Senate Bill 1383 methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbon emission reduction standards.
CAP fails to comply with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District GHG emissions accounting standards.
CAP fails to set measurable targets for.reducing Vehicle Miles Travelled
CAP fails to set standards for new project emissions.


Take a look at the Public Review Draft, also attached, come to the meeting, and ask questions.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS::
• Why does measure LU-1 target retaining only 30% of the existing tree canopy? What would emissions reductions be if 50% and 70% were targeted?
• Is planting 2500 trees each year realistic in terms of space and manpower available?
• How will measure LU-3, prevention of burning 80% of trees removed during land conversion, be enforced?
• How will the Napa CAP pursue the state Air Resource Board's 2018 goals for reductions in methane, black carbon, and F-gases when the CAP inventory does not separate out emissions contributed by these pollutants?
• How will the CAP Consistency Checklist determine the emissions of a project and the decrease in emissions by the CAP measures taken?
• Why don't the transportation measures set goals of reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled as a measurable target?
• What amount of emissions is allowable for a new project? What Threshold of Significance standard will Napa County adopt?

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The solution we offer is to hire an expert ASAP to address the inadequacies of the proposed CAP and secure the best possible protections. The critical knowledge and action needed is within our grasp. Please make a generous donation today.

We have a right to a livable climate for a livable planet, now and for our children. Join us in demanding decisive action.


SPECIAL MEETING

Thursday, February 23, 2017, 3pm

2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, South Campus, Building A
First Floor, Conference Room, Napa CA 94558

Transient Party Town! (updated)


Bill Hocker - Feb 20, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share


The Big City comes to sleepy Napa
Update: NVR 2/20/17: Napa asks, How many hotel rooms are enough?

NY Times 2/1/17: A Waking Giant or a Monster? Developers Eye Once-Sleepy Napa

In the Times article Napa Vision 2050 is recognized nationally for its efforts to slow the urbanization of Napa County. Kudos to Harris Nussbaum and Patricia Damery.

Jim Wilson on the Napa Vision 2050 Economic Forum
It's exactly the effect we heard is coming at George Caloyannidis' Tourism Economy Forum in April of last year:

Samuel Mendlinger:
  • Tourism accelerates the polarization between the population and the very wealthy.
  • Polarization begins when businesses begin to cater to tourists and affluent locals at the expense of townsfolk.
  • Now a major social revolution: small group of elderly people and few young people.

    Q: Whose town is this anyway? What can community do so the power doesn’t get concentrated in the hands of a few?
    A: There are a few only. Locals are usually the last to get a voice in tourism development. Usually money does the talking. Local leaders who are wise enough know that the local people need to be part of the process. Most people don’t really know what their long-term needs are. Community groups need to have experience.

    Know what they’re doing, how to get things done, like NV2050. It’s what attracted me to this event in Napa. Hospitality is about cheap labor. Tourism is about value added.

    Q: Local schools close and students are sent out of town?
    A: Imbalance. Older population crowds out the younger people. Mis-managed tourism.. Petersborough losing its school system,, and its vertical, complete society. Declining school enrollment is a sign that either young adults don’t want to have children, or they don’t see a future in the town.

    Q: How do you organize the population?
    A: NV2050 is a great example. You’re anxious over the future, you’re organizing through people who can organize, and have the time and abilty to see things through. Then expand! It’s bottom up. Top down is very rare.

    Q: How do you recommend citizens get involved in decisions on smart tourism?
    A: Mendlinger: What is motivation for County and City political leaders to get involved? Do they want more development or a higher quality of life for citizens? If interested in business they won’t listen. But if you have wise leadership you’ll do the part of the job that improves the quality of life. Especially in Napa you have a great pool of experience and wisdom. It’s cosmopolitan not provincial. Political leadership has to listen to well-organized citizens who understand how real life works. Citizens can go far. Like this meeting where you have political leadership plus informed citizens. I traveled fro Boston to see how Napa is doing, and I am encouraged by the possibilities. Rural areas - resource extraction areas – when industry pulls out there’s not much reason for community to be there.

    Q: Advice on blasting open “iron triangle” government/agencies/industry?
    A: Mendlinger; How to develop experienced and wise leaders and citizens is the question. I just don’t know how.

Eben Fodor:
  • In an economic impact study, costs are just as important as revenues.
  • Too much tourism can overwhelm a community.
  • Impact studies usually tout all the benefits of a development. Fiscal impacts are often overlooked and no multipliers are used.
  • The reports that go out make the development look great but it’s not. There’s no balanced perspective with costs to the community.

Napa Vision 2050 Economic Forum: Understanding the tourism driven economy
George Caloyannidis' articles on growth and tourism
More on Napa City development here
More on Napa Growth Issues here

4 Comments Show/Hide

Pass a ban on private helipads (updated)


Daniel Mufson - Feb 17, 2017   Share


UPDATE 2/17/17:
County Planning Commission Hearing for the Final Environmental Impact Report on the Palmaz Heliport Project will happen on Mar 1st, 2017, 9:00am at the County Building, 3rd Floor, 1135 3rd St Napa. The notice for the hearing is here

1/19/16
The Board of Supervisors chambers were full last week [one year ago now] for the meeting on the Palmaz Heliport ("Proposed Palmaz helipad sparks big turnout at meeting," Jan. 17). It is difficult to understand why the non-essential pleasures of one individual can trump the health, safety and welfare of ALL of his neighbors.

We have collected more than 500 signatures on a petition against the heliport. Neighbors from Hagen Road, Coombsville and beyond came to protest this intrusion. The question asked by many was why even go through the environmental impact report process, isn’t there anyone (Supervisor) who can step up a demonstrate leadership and put a stop to this?

We understand that a proposed ordinance has been submitted to the Supervisors to change zoning regulations to prevent private helicopter landings. It would be marvelous if they could promptly act on this and save everyone lots of time and effort to deal with the environmental impact report process.

Helicopters are not safe. The Register carried a story (“FAA seeks industry help as helicopter bird strikes increase,” Dec. 28, 2015) about the FAA’s concern about bird strikes on helicopters. With so many large birds, including eagles, herons and geese, residing in the proposed flight path and about Mt. George it is inevitable that there will be an air strike and tragedy.

I recently suggested that if this heliport is approved, there will be many more applications and we will see the proliferation of Uber helicopters for the Uber rich. We have now learned that Airbus is working with Uber to supply these air taxies (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18). So I say to the Supervisors, if you don't stop this project, we will be inundated with helicopter traffic. “HELI-NO!"

Oh, and while you’re at it, let’s ban delivery drones.

NVR version 1/23/16: Pass a ban on private helipads
NapaVision2050 Palmaz Petition page
SCR Palmaz screed

And coming to a theater near you! The Invasion of the Ubercoptors.

"Brownie, You’re doing a heck of a job!”


Daniel Mufson - Feb 17, 2017   Share


Napa Valley Sustainable Groundwater Alternative

In late December Napa County filed a so-called Alternate water Plan with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). It basically said in hundreds of pages, costing taxpayers at least $634,200 in consulting fees alone, that the county had done sufficient monitoring of the Napa Valley Sub-basin water supplies over the past ten years to be able to demonstrate that everything would be just fine over the next 20 years, thank you very much. Or in other words, told the state to leave us alone.

Napa Vision 2050 and our affiliates filled comments taking exception with this conclusion as did:
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists;
  • US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service;
  • The Nature Conservancy.

Two trade groups, the Napa County Farm Bureau and the Napa Valley Vintners praised the report as in, it was a heck of a job!

Our key problems with the county’s report are:

  • Cherry-picked data from a few monitoring wells, errors in calculations.
  • The role of drain tiles in dumping ground water from vineyards was not appropriately accounted for.
  • The report assumes that cities will not need to use any ground water as sufficient water will be available to the them from the State Water Project and the city’s reservoirs for the next 20 years even in the face of prolonged droughts and raising temperatures.
  • Assumes that current use of ground water by vineyards and wineries will be sustainable.
  • Report assumes minimal growth of population and agriculture over 20 years.
  • The Alternative claims groundwater is sustainable yet the Sub-Basin has undesirable results such as: sea water intrusion, groundwater level declines, declining groundwater quality and land subsidence.
  • The county does not have, nor desires to have, a mechanism for dealing with well owners and neighbors who are experiencing loss of water supplies. Currently, they want to study the problems...... avoiding any direct help.
  • The public was afforded minimal opportunity to comment-there was no stakeholder engagement.
  • Details on these comments can be found here.
More Links to Napa's Sustainable Groundwater Alternative can be found here


Napa County Climate Action Plan

We wonder just how much it has cost the County (we taxpayers) to fund this report over the several years of its development in consultant fees and staff time? We feel that the County’s current development of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) is taking a similar approach; using a consulting company that is trying to minimize the largest sources of GHG production--

Come see for yourself at the WICC Climate Action Plan Workshop next Thursday February 23rd, 3PM at 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, South Campus, Building A, First Floor, Conference Room, Napa CA 94558.

We’ll have more on this soon.

got Water? Will you have water?


Daniel Mufson - Feb 14, 2017   Share


Comments submitted to the DWR:
February 14, 2017

Bill Brewster
Senior Engineering Geologist, North Central Region
California Department of Water Resources CA
3500 Industrial Blvd, West Sacramento, CA 95691

I am submitting comments on behalf of Napa Vision 2050 regarding the “Napa Valley Ground Water Sustainability-A Basin Analysis Report for the Napa Valley Subbasin (large file)” submitted to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) by Napa County on December 16, 2016. Napa County suggests that the basin is being managed sustainability and therefore no Groundwater Sustainability Agency nor Groundwater Sustainability Plan is required.

We do not agree for the following reasons.

§354.10 Notice and Communication

Napa County claims to have held numerous public meetings. They held meetings but they were not exactly robust town hall meetings. I was at several where there were just a few people in attendance. You should ask the county to provide data on the number of citizens who attended these meetings. Typically these meetings would have two presentations, one by the Natural Resources Conservation Manager and then by the county’s engineering consultant, Luhdorff & Scalmanini. These slide presentations were voluminous, not readily comprehensible and typically took the entire allotted time: At one meeting 11/23/15 at the Napa Public Library, chaired by a County Supervisor, due to these prolonged presentations, there was no time for ANY public input or questions. Similarly at other so-called workshop meetings only three minutes of public comment was allowed per citizen and often the comments were not responded to. The feeling was that they were not seeking public input or discussion: It wasn’t democracy in action.

§344.18 Water Budget

SGMA is intended to strengthen the connection between land use planning and water management. However, the report submitted by Napa County does not address likely future conditions: prolonged drought and increasing temperatures in California. Currently Napa County relies upon three sources of water:
• Ground Water (GW)
• Surface Water
• State Water Project (SWP) via the North Bay Aqueduct.

The Report states that groundwater pumping has provided a substantial contribution to the overall water supply for the Subbasin since at least the late 1980s. Land use mapping by DWR indicates that a shift occurred from predominantly surface water to groundwater as the source of supply for agriculture between 1987 and 2011. “Local supplies have also been augmented since 1968 by water imported for municipal use from the State Water Project along the North Bay Aqueduct and more recently through the use of recycled water”. Augmented is a curious word to use here as it does not reflect that SWP accounts for 50% of municipal water usage in Napa County today.

And more importantly, while residential units in the unincorporated county and agriculture are now the primary users of the GW, the report does not address the possibility of municipalities within the basin needing and using GW extraction to survive. Instead they use a model that says the cities will use surface water:

“…land use units within City water system boundaries of Napa and Yountville were modeled to be supplied by surface water, with the exception of a number of parcels near Yountville which are known to have been supplied by recycled water since 1977”. [Section 6.5.2/Page101 of the Napa County Report]

In the Napa Valley Subbasin, the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the population is increasing, growing across all four of the incorporated municipalities in the Subbasin (City of Napa, City of St. Helena, City of Calistoga, and the Town of Yountville). And while Napa County’s second largest city, American Canyon, is not included in this Subbasin analysis, it must be considered in terms of the prolonged drought scenario that may require all municipalities to switch to GW. In order to protect its citizens, the county government is responsible for contingency planning.

SGMA requires that each agency shall establish a sustainability goal; specifically: Each Agency shall establish in its Plan a sustainability goal for the basin that culminates in the absence of undesirable results within 20 years of the applicable statutory deadline.

The report states that GW levels have been stable over the hydrologic base period (1988-2015). But as noted above, during this period of growth, significant quantities of water began to be obtained from the SWP to meet the needs of the municipalities. This suggests that the Subbasin system has not been truly sustainable.

During the recent prolonged drought, California has markedly lowered the SWP allocations and mandated water conservation measures from the municipalities and issued guidance documents such as, “Safeguarding California Implementation Action Plans 2016” to ensure that people and communities are able to withstand the impacts of climate disruption:

• “Loss of snowpack storage may reduce reliability of surface water supplies and result in greater demand on other sources of supply”.
• “As climate change reduces water supplies and increases water demands (as a result of higher temperatures), additional stresses are being placed on the Delta and other estuaries along the California coastline.”
• “Each local water agency will have to contend with impacts to their local watershed, as well as upstream and downstream watersheds that influence local water supply or water quality constraints.”

This Napa County GW Report does not address the likely impact of prolonged hot, dry weather on the ability of the state to deliver SWP water; for the surface water sources in Napa to be able to supply sufficient pure water and therefore the impact of the (at least) four municipalities demanding GW to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens.

A sustainable yield analysis by Napa County established that the maximum amount of water that can be withdrawn annually from the Subbasin groundwater supply without causing an undesirable result is within 17,000 acre-feet-per year (AFY) to approximately 20,000 AFY. The average municipal use in the Subbasin has been 17,300 AFY over the 1988 to 2015 study period. Thus, this analysis predicts that if the municipalities were required to use GW, the Subbasin would become unsustainable.

At the hearing on this Report (Agenda item 9A) before the Napa County Supervisors on December 13, 2016 using data from the consultant’s slide presentation, I raised concerns about how the county would protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens if the projected water budget were on the negative side as the consultant presented data slides which do not appear in the final report that showed a projected water budget (2016-2025) deficit of 14,300 AFY, projected for hot and low rainfall conditions. There was also an assumption made that the State Water Project allocation remains at an average of 42%. This doesn’t seem realistic as the allocation has been dramatically cut in recent years to as low as 5%. I raised the possibility of our municipalities needing to use ground water for their supplies under these conditions. No one, no Supervisor nor Public Works employee attempted to answer these issues and none have provided answers as of the submission of this comment letter.

It is important to note that, in earlier county documents the possible need for GW use by municipalities was discussed, and apparently forgotten. In November 15, 2005 a report, “2050 Napa Valley Water Resources” prepared by West Yost & Associates was presented to Napa County Flood Board:

“As municipalities consider potential increases in GW use, they should exercise caution, so that they do not adversely impact existing GW users”.

“An increase in Unincorporated [Water] Demands is possible, primarily due to an increase in vineyard demand [due to densification of vineyard plantings].” Various scenarios for municipal water supplies were presented that showed shortfalls by 2020 or 2050. To mitigate these shortfalls it was suggested that they use GW, purchase entitlements from other cities, purchase additional SWP entitlements, construct additional municipal GW wells, recycle water.

In response to the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Napa County has submitted an Alternative Submittal, Basin Analysis Report, where an analysis of basin conditions presumes to demonstrate that the basin has operated within its sustainable yield over a period of at least 10 years. However, this has been accomplished through extensive utilization of state surface water by the municipalities as they used less surface water. This suggests an unsustainable water balance especially as hotter, drier weather is forecast.

Napa County Grand Jury Report

In addition to the 2005 report cited above, it must be further noted that the Napa County Grand Jury issued a report, “Management of Ground Water and Recycled Water: Is Napa County in Good Hands?” on March 31, 2015. [They] investigated Napa County’s management of groundwater for the following reasons:

• Continued drought
• Napa County’s reliance on agriculture and its need for water
• Many newspaper articles expressing concern over increased
development and asking, “Where will the water come from?”

Despite the efforts by the County, this Grand Jury does have some concerns that we believe need to be addressed:
• The differences between what the well drillers and the geologist stated
and what the County believes is happening on the Valley floor with
respect to groundwater levels and aquifer recharge.
• Most well owners have groundwater extraction limits that cannot be
enforced by the County. With the exception of the MST, their
groundwater usage is not monitored, even for large water users. There are
provisions in the new SGMA that would allow the local agency to
impose fees to fund the costs of groundwater management, including the
costs of monitoring users’ groundwater usage.
• The County does not have a groundwater management contingency plan
in place should the drought continue.

This Grand Jury would stress that there are some troubling issues and that the County would be better served planning for a potential future disaster vs. waiting for it to happen and then trying to put a plan together quickly. Citizens should expect their governmental officials to be prepared for all potential outcomes and have procedures or policies in place that they may rely on when needed.

Grand Jury RECOMMENDATIONS – GROUNDWATER
R1. By December 31, 2015, the Napa County Public Works Department to
develop a contingency plan, approved by the Board of Supervisors, that lays out the major steps to be taken in the event of severe drought conditions.
R2. By June 30, 2016, the Napa County Public Works Department to require major groundwater users to meter and report their water usage on a quarterly basis to ensure all well owners are following prescribed usage rates.
R3. By June 30, 2016, the Napa County Public Works Department to adopt policies to encourage all other groundwater users to meter and monitor their well water usage.

The Board of Supervisors responded that they would evaluate these recommendations, in the context of the Alternate Groundwater Sustainability Plan in their correspondence with the Superior Court Judge Stone on August 11, 2015 but they have not.

§354.34 Monitoring Networks

However, the Supervisors have not developed a contingency plan regarding GW allocation in the face of a prolonged water emergency affecting this Subbasin.

The Supervisors had promised the Grand Jury and the Superior Court significant outreach to and input from the public on Grand Jury Recommendations 2 and 3 regarding water metering and monitoring. No one can say that there has been significant outreach to the public on this topic or the Basin Analysis Report as evidenced by the non-existent turnout at “public” sessions. There is no plan to meter and monitor GW usage.


Conclusion

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Alternate Submittal proposed by Napa County. Napa Vision 2050 asks that you do not approve the Report as it does not address the likely scenario of prolonged drought conditions in the state and the Subbasin which will likely culminate in undesirable results within 20 years. It does not address how the municipalities, with the largest populations centers, are to survive if the SWP supplies and surface supplies are curtailed and/or degraded in their quality.

Daniel Mufson, Ph.D., President
Napa Vision 2050
PO Box 2385
Yountville, CA94599

Napavision2050@gmail.com
www.napavision2050.org

Concerns over Milliken Dam


Chris Malan - Feb 14, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share


Holes in Milliken Dam
NVR 2/14/17: Holes are the key to protecting concrete dam outside Napa

From: Chris Malan
Date: Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 8:50 AM
Subject: Milliken Dam
To: Mary Luros, Juliana Inman, Peter Mott , Jill Techel, Keith Caldwell, Alfredo Pedroza, Brad Wagenknecht, Diane Dillon, Ryan Gregory, Belia Ramos, Scott Sedgley

Orville Dam failure reminds us of our own aging Milliken Dam and it’s lack of full structural integrity since 1924.

Several years ago, the State Division of Dams and Safety (SDDS) ordered the owner of Milliken Dam, the City of Napa, to lower the water surface level in the reservoir such that the pressure against the dam would be reduced due to unacceptable long term ‘cracking' in the dam’s concrete structure.

It took many years for the engineers to come up with a design remedy short of lowering or removing the dam itself. The State engineers accepted the City of Napa’s remedy to bore 5 holes in the face of dam in hopes of keeping the water surface level 16 feet below the rim of the dam.

Given the winter storms and the earthquake in Angwin a few days ago I have these questions about Milliken Dam:

  1. How long has the dam been spilling this year? If so, for how long? Do you expect the dam to spill if it hasn’t yet? If so, when?
  2. Are the 5 holes bored in the dam efficiently keeping up with the volume of water coming into the reservoir such that the water surface elevation is kept the required 15 feet below the dam’s concrete rim to reach as required by the SDDS
  3. Are there any new structural failures of the dam? If so, what are they?
  4. When was the last time the Division of Dams and Safety inspected Milliken Dam? When was the last time new recommendations were made? If so, what were they?
  5. Who is the official at the SDDS that inspects Milliken Dam? When did SDDS last inspect the dam? Are the SDDS’s monitoring reports available to the public? If so, please provide a link.

Above Milliken Reservoir
These questions should be answered in a publicly noticed town hall meeting or put on the Napa City Council’s regular agenda.

Not only is public safety of utmost concern, but there is unique and valuable aquatic habitat below the dam. Both interests must be protected ahead of any dam failure possibility.

Given climate change (deluge to drought), increased erosion and runoff from watershed degradation (vineyards in the hills above Milliken Dam), and the age of this defective Dam, I would like to request that this issue be put on the City Council’s agenda for full public disclosure about the status of Milliken Dam.

Please advise.

Thank You,
Chris Malan
Institute for Conservation Advocacy, Research and Education,
ICARE

Executive Director

What is Happening to Our Most Precious and Irreplaceable Resource: Our Water


Gary Margadant - Feb 13, 2017   Share


Editor: This interesting read researched and written by Gary Margadant and Elaine de Man describes why we need to think carefully about Napa County's alternative plan for groundwater management. In the next days we will post some of the public comments on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act alternative submitted by our Board of Supervisors to the California Department of Water Resources. It is critically important that citizens become aware of the stakes involved to our future water supply.


The number of wineries in the Napa Valley has more than doubled over the last twenty years—from about 280 in 1996 to around 570 now--all using free water from the ground. This growth is unsustainable, yet local government and wine industry trade groups continue to fund and market Napa Valley, attracting visitors from around the world at a rate that increasingly overburdens our roads and resources. What we don’t see, however, is what is happening underground to our water supply.

In 2014 Governor Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to address the alarming depletion of regional groundwater. Among other things, this act requires local governments to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to create and implement a Groundwater Management Plan for water basins that have been designated as medium- or high-priority. The floor of the Napa Valley from Calistoga to Napa, more formally known as the “Napa Valley Sub-Basin,” is considered a medium-priority water basin.

Sustainable Water Management?

Instead of following SGMA’s plan, the Napa County Board of Supervisors opted to take an end-run by submitting an “alternative” plan to the GSA. Napa County claims that the groundwater in the Napa Valley has been sustainably managed for the past 10 years. To support that idea, the County hired consultants Luhdorff and Scalmanini (LSCE) to prepare a report on the state of the Napa Valley Sub-Basin and county’s management of it. The report, entitled Basin Analysis Report, was completed late last year and claims that the Napa Valley Basin has been ‘stable’ for the last 10 years, eliminating the need for a Groundwater Sustainability Agency or the Groundwater Management Plan that would otherwise be required by the state.

Careful examination of the LSCE report determined that there could be catastrophic errors in acting on the conclusion that the Napa Valley Sub-Basin has been adequately managed over the past 10 years. Recommendations by citizens were made to the Board of Supervisors that more study was needed. Nevertheless, this report was accepted, approved, and submitted to the State of California by the Napa County Board of Supervisors.

Factors not considered in this report:

* The report does not consider the impact of the changes in climate that we already are experiencing on groundwater supplies, including the impact of hot days, the effect of drought on groundwater and the diminution of water supplied by the North Bay Aqueduct (NBA).The NBA is a pipeline carrying water from the Sacramento River to Napa Valley and Solano Valley. The NBA water supply is dependent on the Snow Pack in the Sierra Mountains. In a drought, the amount can be reduced to 5% of normal, requiring cities in Napa County to rely only on their limited water reservoirs, Hennessey and Milliken (Napa City), Bell (St Helena), Rector (Yountville, Veterans Home), Kimball (Calistoga).

*Most of the grapes grown in the Napa Valley are grown on the valley floor. These grapes are grown using groundwater extracted from wells drawing on our aquifers.

*The amount of water extracted through these wells is not metered.

*Some well owners are not required to report groundwater extraction at all.

*Some are required to self-report to the county the amount of groundwater extracted.

*Water use estimations are part of a winery use permit, yet the water amount actually used is never verified.

These groundwater extraction reports are not available to the public. The bottom line is that no one really knows how much groundwater is being extracted from our aquifers. If the county is successful in dodging the establishment of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, business will continue as usual and groundwater extraction will continue to go unmetered and unknown.

An Uncertain Water Budget

Part of the flawed LSCE analysis includes a “water budget”: a determination of how much water flows into the valley through rainfall versus how much water is removed from the valley or captured in ponds and reservoirs before reaching the valley floor for consumption by residents or agricultural irrigation. The chart below, not based on water meters, calculates that there should be a net gain within the aquifer of 6,000 acre ft/yr.

But, the data collected over the last 10 years does not show that to be the case. The aquifer has remained stable, not grown and will not grow in the future.

How can that be? As the LSCE chart indicates, uncertainty in the individual budget components (italicized) of “Upland Runoff” and “SW Outflow and Baseflow,” which represent the greatest amount of water flowing into and out of the aquifer, bear the greatest degree of uncertainty.

As some of these conclusions are based on hypothetical, calculated information, we might conservatively assume they may be off by 2%. And if we take a worst case scenario which is less input AND more outflow than shown we might see that:

Upland Runoff is actually 145,000 minus 2,900 (2%) or 142,100 ac-ft/yr
and, SW Outflow and Baseflow are 176,000 plus 3,520 (2%) or 179,520 ac-ft/yr

If that is the case, we would have an annual change in Subbasin Storage of negative 37,420 ac-ft/yr.

What the LSCE report fails to state is the actual margins of error in the calculations. So the question is, is the 2% margin of error we estimate a risk we are willing to take?
If the answer is yes, it would 1. save the county money by not having to create a new agency (GSA) and 2. avoid more bureaucracy. But we believe the answer is No. Ongoing monitoring of our water supply is paramount to the future of the wine industry and residents of the Napa Valley. Vineyard development of our hillsides and watersheds is rampant with more applications in the pipeline at the County’s Planning Department. No data has been presented to back up the LSCE report assumption that hillside vineyard development will not impact the “upland” flow of water into the subbasin. Although data may be available from wells that are already located in strategic areas, the groundwater levels are subject to the impact of hillside development. If those wells are not identified and we don’t have access to the data, we have no way of knowing what the negative impacts of the conversion of hillside forests to vineyards might be.

The consequences of the County’s current course of action are too high: lowered groundwater levels, degraded water quality, land subsidence, and saltwater intrusion into groundwater. These are the same undesirable results that SGMA was designed to curtail! It is imperative that we take the long view in this time of global climate change and inform the State of California of the serious errors in the County’s report and the dire consequences to our Napa Valley if we do not establish accurate groundwater data by metering. The fate of our water supply is in the State’s hands now.

Please use this link to comment to the State of California Department of Water Resources by February 15, 2017.

Talking points:

1. Although the County report prepared by Luhdorff and Scalmanini claims the Napa Valley Sub-Basin has been adequately managed over the past 10 years, there appear to be serious errors that could be catastrophic to the county’s water supply. More study is needed before such an alternative plan is granted.

2. The report does not take into consideration the impact of the development of the hillsides on the groundwater in the subbasin.

3. Until we have more available hard data on groundwater levels, water quality, land subsidence, and saltwater intrusion into groundwater wells, we cannot make responsible decisions on groundwater management. Recommend that use permit holders be required to monitor wells and to submit data to the county.

4. Any abuse of water use, when metered and identified, must be corrected.

Please also contact our Board of Supervisors and encourage them to support and enact this crucial monitoring of groundwater to fully understand the impact of hillside planting and wells on our groundwater supply.
From the Water Balance charts in the NV Basin Plan.

"Too Egregious"


Daniel Mufson - Feb 7, 2017   Share


Milliken Reservoir leading up to the Walt Ranch at the top of picture under the wing. Photo by Napa Vision Aerial Photo Team
Napa Vision 2050 applauds the decisions of five groups to sue Napa County over the permitting of the Walt Ranch development.

The litigants include the Center for Biological Diversity, the Napa Sierra Club, and three local groups: Circle Oaks County Water District, Circle Oaks Homeowners Association,
and the Living Rivers Council.

“Lawsuits are a last resort, reserved when all other options have been exhausted. This project, which would destroy 160 acres of woodland, more than 14,000 trees, was just too egregious. We had to challenge it by any means available.”
— Nancy Tamarisk, Vice Chair of the Napa Sierra Club

This project has certainly stirred so much concern. Thanks to everyone who has shown up at hearings and on the streets, made public comment and written letters, imploring our elected officials to listen to expert witnesses presenting conflicting data from with applicant's studies. Besides tree destruction, objections have been raised against the potential for pollution of Napa City's Milliken Reservoir. The project also presents hazards to our threatened species, the groundwater source for the Circle Oaks community, ground instability, and dewatering of Milliken Creek.

Stay tuned...We'll keep you up to date on the latest!

Stand up for your rights


Mike Hackett - Jan 29, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share


    "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." - Alice Walker

At the women’s rights and anti-Trump rally on Jan. 21, we were all energized by the size, unity and spirit of the assembled citizens. When our congressman, Mike Thompson, spoke of conviction, courage and determination that this is the time to “stand up,” we all roared with strong approval and understanding. We were there to stand up for the rights of women to control their own bodies, the right to adequate health care for all Americans, the right to marry whomever one may choose and the right for all people, of all colors, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs and socio-economic status to determine their own future; in other words, the right to self-determination without influence from the corrupt and small greedy segment of the one-percenters. These rights are bestowed to all our citizens from the basic structure of our bill of rights and our democratic system of government. They should include every race, gender and class.

I feel compelled to point out that the balance of power is off-kilter not only in Washington, but right here at home in the Napa Valley. I was shocked to read that a wine industry lobby spokesman felt compelled to call Forge Pizza with a “courtesy call,” to tell the owners they shouldn’t be getting in the middle of a dispute between Napa Vision 2050 and the Napa wine industry.

Yes, Vision 2050 is providing the needed resistance to expansion of vineyards into our hillsides, where the future of our water will be determined by whether we can enact and enforce sufficient protections for our watersheds. The environmental groups that comprise Napa Vision 2050 are totally supportive of the wine and tourism industry, but not at the expense of the citizen’s rights to a healthy, sustainable and quality future.

Vision 2050 understands that with climate change, we don’t have the time to allow any more mistakes. 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row. If we want to ensure that there’s adequate water supply in the future, we must protect our County’s watersheds at all cost, even if that means capping the allowable deforestation on our hills for more wine grape production.

Portions of the wine industry lobby are, unfortunately, led by that small greedy segment of the very wealthy; by the same kind of bullies that many of us feel are stealing our rights at the national level. The wine industry creates thousands of jobs and donates millions to needy causes. But now some in the industry are turning a blind eye to residents’ rights and are seemingly interested in turning Mother Earth into a toxic, unlivable planet in the name of quarterly profits.

Is our level of democracy at risk right here at home? Yes it is. Last year, when the Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative was drafted and more than 6,300 citizens “stood up” to get it on the ballot, County Counsel mandated it be pulled at the last minute due to a supposed “small legal technicality.”

Most disturbing is that the other two measures that the county actually helped get to the voters, contain these same “legal technicalities.” Why was the watershed initiative jerked from the ballot? It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the long arm of the bully segment within the wine industry reaches deeply into our county political machine, perhaps because some within the industry saw this initiative as a real threat to their continued vineyard expansion into our hillsides, at the expense of our watersheds. The issue will be decided in the Court of Appeal this summer.

One need look no further than the friends who have filed in support of the watershed initiative to understand what’s at stake: California Native Plant Society, California Wildlife Foundation, Corporate Ethics International, Environmental Defense Center, Forest Forever, Forest Unlimited, Greenbelt Alliance, Save the Bay, Planning and Conservation League, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, Environmental Protection Information Center and Sierra Nevada Alliance.

This watershed initiative example and the fundraiser show that democracy is in trouble in Napa County. If a small group dedicated to a sustainable future can’t even hold a fundraiser without being attacked by big business, we need to “stand up.” Local businesses should not be forced to pick a side when it comes to supporting a sustainable future for Napa County. Why would holding a fundraiser for a small community group alienate the wine industry lobby?

This is a clear illustration of the over-sized influence this industry has in our community. Local residents have a right to organize and share information about a sustainable vision for our community. What’s at stake on the national level is exactly what’s at stake here at home. So let’s all “stand up,” right here, right now, to ensure our democracy shines with a brilliance never seen before.

NVR LTE version 1/29/17: Stand up for your rights

Happy Birthday Napa Vision 2050!


Daniel Mufson - Jan 25, 2017   Share


Jan 20, 2015
It's been two years since our first meeting as
"The Grand Coalition."


25 people were invited and 50 showed up and it's been non-stop activity ever since to advocate for clean air and water; public health issues; compliance of wineries to their use permits and protection of our watersheds.
In two short years we have matured and grown, a coalition of 14 citizen groups who want to protect our valley from corporate pillaging of our environment. We are vintners, growers, doctors, lawyers, psychoanalysts, artists, teachers, and educators working to protect and preserve #OurNapaValley for future generations.

Join with us also on Facebook.

Redefining Napa Vision 2050


Harris Nussbaum - Jan 24, 2017   Share


In a recent front-page article in the Napa Valley Register "Wine Battle Now A Pizza Fight," Rex Stults from the Napa Valley Vintners is quoted as describing Vision 2050 as "a small, divisive group of people with the ambition of taking down the Napa Valley wine industry."

That troubles me because it so far from the truth. Vision 2050 is actually a coalition of 14 local groups that got together because they saw our political leaders approving every winery and vineyard development, without regard to its impact on the environment, water, residents, and the wine industry itself. It has a great appreciation for all the wine industry does for this valley and wants it to succeed.

It is actually a very large group of local citizens from 14 significant organizations including Get A Grip, Sierra Club, Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council, Save Yountville Hill, Protect Rural Napa and others. It consists of grape growers, vintners, doctors, lawyers, educators, business people, and many other professionals. They are bright and articulate local residents who have a concern for the future of this Valley.

The wine industry here is changing. Locally owned wineries are often being bought up by international conglomerates with little connection to the valley. Most follow the rules laid down when they were approved. As in most industries there are a few bad apples that greatly violate the conditions of approval. A problem was that so many new wineries were being approved the county could not provide oversight to what they were doing.

Each group in Vision 2050 has an issue they are concerned about and it has split the power of the group, but there have been changes because of their efforts. Now is not the time for us to fight over pizza or to call each other names. I believe we all want the wine industry to succeed, but many fear that without some foresight it will destroy itself.

I want to thank Vision 2050 for its efforts to bring many Napa residents together and to the wine industry for supporting many worthwhile programs.

NVR version 1/20/17: Redefining Vision 2050

Give pizza a chance


Daniel Mufson - Jan 22, 2017   Share


    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    - Mahatma Gandi

So here we are a week since this unsavory “Pizza Money” story began. Thank you all who said hello at the magnificent Women’s Rally and talked to me of “pizza rights!”

The Good News: You-- the #Real Napa Neighbors-- stood behind us and we raised more money than months of Sunday pizza dine & donates.

Now the bad news is we missed having a fun time with you, our Neighbors, and we haven’t received an apology from the Napa Valley Vintners for scuttling our dine and donate scheduled for today. Rex Stults, an NVV executive of spoke for that organization when he said “I would have a hard time believing that a local restaurant wants to do a dine & donate for Vision 2050 and alienate the Napa Valley wine industry who they rely upon for a large part of their business.”

The bottom line is we had an agreement with Forge which they backed out of after getting a “courtesy” call from the Napa Valley Vintners, interference pure and simple. So the Napa Valley Vintners, who profess in their propaganda to be part of the community in our Napa Valley, would force local businesses not to serve the #RealNapaNeighbors ? Neighbors who are for wineries complying with their permits and not destroying the watersheds?

Gandi got it right - first we were ignored, then we were laughed at, now we're being attacked.

Just Say No to Bullying


Kathy Felch - Jan 17, 2017   Share


Sometimes things just take your breath away. This time it was the long powerful arm of the wine industry reaching out to snatch pizza funds from our nonprofit, Napa Vision 2050, a two-year-old organization devoted to protecting the health and environment of Napa County. This is the wine industry that won the nation’s top place in direct-to-consumer sales in 2016. Napa county’s wine industry sales are expected to surpass $1 billion dollars for the second year in a row, according to the Napa Valley Register.

Saturday evening I got a call from an administrator for a new local restaurant trying to build their business here by connecting with our community. On behalf of Napa Vision 2050, I had arranged a Dine and Donate event at this restaurant for January 22 – supporters come in, show the restaurant’s flyer about the event and a percentage of their bill comes to our organization as a fundraiser. We had worked out a monthly Dine and Donate schedule through November of this year.

The announcement for our first event on January 22 went out to the Napa Vision 2050 mailing list, which includes many representatives of wine industry trade organizations and wineries. Evidently we tipped them off to something they did not like. Within twenty-four hours, the restaurant had received so many calls from wineries and the industry objecting to its partnering with us that the restaurant cancelled the events.

I think your readers ought to know what this industry is capable of doing. Our Napa County belongs to us all… not to any one industry. Do they think they own the county? Our events would have helped this restaurant reach into our community and it would have helped us raise money to make Napa a better place for all of us. Jeepers, a pizza fundraiser?

Kathy Felch
Vice-President, Napa Vision 2050
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