Who gets to drink Napa’s water?

Notes presented to the Board of Supervisors on January 13, 2020, by Daniel Mufson

Water is such an essential part of life that I have been mystified by the ineptness and secrecy with which I believe the county has handled the evaluation of groundwater (GW) in the Subbasin. I’m further disturbed that the county does not seem concerned about the sustainability of water for residents living above the valley floor and in the cities. When you talk about GW you seem to be talking of water supply for less than 20% of the county’s population that lives on the valley floor and for agriculture.

With 80% of Napa residents living in the cities, what is the master plan to supply them with water when the state water project is no longer able to deliver due to climate change?? And the reservoirs are compromised by drought and polluting runoff?

You quietly established the NV Subbasin GW Sustainability Agency during late December 2019.

Here’s some history: During 2016 you received reports from staff and their consultant that suggested the sustainability and proper management of GW in the Subbasin. Citizens that actually read that 375-page report were troubled by its conclusions. We tried to communicate our issues in 3-minute segments and by emails to you. We never received responses back.

We sent our comments to the state DWR and they listened. They rejected your report that concluded the sub-basin was sustainable.

I don’t believe that our responses were ever shown to the WICC for discussion. You taut WICC as a citizen forum but I don’t think that they ever had voted for anything other than a meeting schedule. And, by the way, those meetings have been held in long rooms with no amplification that are not conducive for public edification or input.

We were awaiting the county’s response to the DWR but two weeks before the report was summited, staff told WICC they were trying to contact the DWR-there was no mention of the substance of the draft report they were obviously working on. This announcement was the last thing on the agenda when many WICC members had already left the meeting. Then your staff submitted a 672-page response to the DWR—which was subsequently rejected.

At the end of the next WICC meeting, staff read portions of the rejection letter received from the DWR that seemed to put a positive spin on the rejection.

So here we are again. You’re poised to use the same playbook, staff and consultants without in-depth resident input. I hereby suggest you place the individuals on the Agency, not an APAC-like advisory committee, that the state DWR listened to: Gary Margadant, Chris Malan and me. And there are others I’d recommend such as Roland Dumas and Geoff Ellsworth.

I’ve reprinted copies of my correspondence to you in early 2017. The points are as valid today as the day I wrote them 3 years ago.

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4/5/20: I’ve attached portions of Napa County’s General Plan that relate to sharing and integration of water resources management that seems to cover those not living in the watersheds.

Policy CON-61b): Manage potential disruptions in water supply from reduced Sierra snow-pack and related drought conditions to ensure a stable water supply in the future by purchasing additional supplies or entitlements, including opportunities to purchase dry year water supplies, modifying standard operational procedures and/or facilities to enhance the availability of local water resources, and planning for water supply treatment facilities and delivery systems to urbanized areas of the county. [Implemented by Action Item CON WR-7].

Action Item CON WR-7: The County, in cooperation with local municipalities and districts, shall perform surface water and groundwater resources studies and analyses and work toward the development and implementation of an integrated water resources management plan (IRWMP) that covers the entirety of Napa County and addresses local and state water resource goals, including the identification of surface water protection and restoration projects, establishment of countywide groundwater management objectives and programs for the purpose of meeting those objectives, funding, and implementation. [Implements Policy 42, 44, 61 and 63].

Action Item CON-WR-4: Implement a countywide watershed monitoring program to assess the health of the County’s watersheds and track the effectiveness of management activities and related restoration efforts. Information from the monitoring program should be used to inform the development of basin-level watershed management plans as well as focused sub-basin (drainage-level) implementation strategies intended to address targeted water resource problems and facilitate restoration opportunities. Over time, the monitoring data will be used to develop overall watershed health indicators and as a basis of employing adaptive watershed management planning. [Implements Policies 42, 44, 47, 49, 63, and 64]