The water wars have only begun!
Every project that comes before the Napa County Planning Commission must show that there is enough water for the project. We have witnessed a great deal of variance in how this is managed.
County hydrologists/consultants say there is plenty of water for a vineyard or winery and then nearby neighbors and communities run out of water, or have the quality of their water severely impacted by these permitted projects.
The most notable example is the Carneros Inn which has had to truck in water and is now asking for extension of a water pipeline from the Congress Valley Water District.
The State Groundwater Sustainability Act (SGMA) mandates that every county have a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in effect no later than Jan. 1, 2022. It also mandates that a county which does not have a Department of Water Resources (DWR) approved plan in place by Jan. 1, 2017, must either form its own Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) or apply for an Alternative by demonstrating that it has been a good steward of groundwater resources for at least 10 years and that its practices do not have, nor will they, any “undesirable results.”
Examples of such undesirable results in Napa County include: dewatering of streams, saltwater intrusion, land subsidence, decline in groundwater quality, groundwater surface levels declining (wells going dry, especially in the northeastern and southern portions of the Napa Sub-Basin).
Napa County has chosen to take the latter alternative route, which, given the proposal they’ve submitted, amounts to a very expensive subterfuge “end run” around both the letter and spirit of the law.
Many individuals and groups including NapaVision 2050 have submitted detailed comments in opposition the County’s proposal. Other groups involved thus far have been: ICARE (Institute for Conservation Advocacy Research and Education – the fiscal sponsor for LRC), North Coast Stream Flow Coalition (NCSFC – an ICARE project), the Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council, Bell Canyon Watershed Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Watersheds Alliance of Atlas Peak, and, of particular significance, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
Three comments have been submitted supporting the Alternative, all from industry/trade groups: the Natural Resources Committee of the Napa County Farm Bureau (and that at the personal behest of Patrick Lowe, Napa County Natural Resources Conservation Manager), Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) and Winegrowers of Napa County.
What can you do?