[email sent to Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission]
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the BOS and Planning Commission,
First I want to thank you for your service to the citizens of Napa County. Thank you for trying to do your best each day for the common good. With your permission, I respectfully direct your attention to the issue of the current and future availability of groundwater:
Iíve been hearing through the grapevine (no pun intended) that we may have wells down on the valley floor that are being drilled to depths of 800 to 1,000 feet these days. If that is in fact the case and we have people and companies pulling up water from those great depths, the obvious concern is that the wine industry may be facing an existential threat if we donít start thinking about ground water availability in a more sustainable way in the County of Napa.
From what Iíve been reading lately, much of the agricultural community in the western United States is facing the same issue of prolific ground water depletion. Now I read this weekend that the Senate and the Assembly up in Sacramento have just sent two bills to the governorís desk to try to help address the issue of groundwater depletion on a statewide basis. From what I can glean, local government will get the first crack at creating a plan for long-term groundwater management. If I have all this right, it would mean you and staff have a historic opportunity to approach groundwater depletion for the first time in a sensible, comprehensive and sustainable manner.
On behalf of the citizens of Napa County, I respectfully request the creation and implementation of a comprehensive ground water management plan to promote the availability and quality of ground water for current and future generations of Napa County residents and businesses of all types. In the meantime, as much as it pains me to write this, I think itís time to seriously consider adopting a temporary moratorium on new wineries, vineyards and other intensive water uses until you all and county staff have had a chance to dig into this matter and begin to figure out what needs to happen to avoid a water availability catastrophe. Such an eventuality may be only one dry winter away.
I will close with an article from the Wall Street Journal describing the rather bleak situation folks are facing down in northern SLO county. A word of caution, this is scary stuff.
Thank you for your time today in reading this and again thank you for your service.