Open Letter To Alfredo Pedroza, Chair, Napa County Board of Supervisors.
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Daniel Mufson | Feb 27, 2017

When the Rains Don't Come: Irrigation Pond Bottom, January 2014

Alfredo Pedroza, ChairNapa County Board of Supervisors

On December 13, 2016 you and the rest of the Board voted to approve the Napa Valley Subbasin Analysis Report which concluded that the Napa Valley Subbasinwas now and will continue to be sustainable for the next 20 years. The reportwas prepared by Luhdorff & Scalmanini at a cost of over $600,000. This reportprovided extensive modeling in an attempt to prove its assertion of sustainability.

At the hearing on December 13, 2016 on this Report (Agenda item 9A), usingdata from the consultant’s slide presentation, I raised concerns about how thecounty would protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens if the projectedwater budget were on the negative side as the consultant presented. These dataslides which do not appear in the final report that showed a projected waterbudget (2016-2025) deficit of 14,300 AFY, projected for hot and low rainfallconditions. The report also made an assumption that the State Water Projectallocation would remain at an average of 42%. This is not realistic as theallocation has been dramatically cut in recent years to as low as 5%. I raised thepossibility of our municipalities needing to use ground water for their suppliesunder these conditions.

Neither you nor staff ever discussed or answered these important questions.And then last week on February 24, 2017 the County presented its Draft ClimateAction Plan at a Special Meeting of WICC. The draft plan reached an oppositeconclusion about the future Napa environment and water supplies more dire thanthose in the Subbasin Report. The draft conclusions were essentially the issues Ihad raised in December. I quote the report below:

So my question is, which report is correct? One says our water situation is finethanks and the other concludes Napa County has water vulnerability. One reportwas issued by Public Works and the other by Planning, Building & EnvironmentalServices. The County paid substantial money to consultants to produce bothreports in addition to devoting what appears to be considerable staff time.

Both reports were reviewed by WICC. Which report is correct?

Has anyone actually read the reports other than the volunteer members of NapaVision 2050?

Does no one see the contradictions?

When will our community see our governing officials address this glaringimportant and expensive inconsistency?

The future health, safety and welfare of Napa’s residents depends upon gettingthe right answer.

Will you act to get the County’s money refunded if you determine that one reportis found to be erroneous?

Will you act to have Napa County rescind its Subbasin report from the DWR?

“We can no longer afford to make infrastructure decisions that do not explicitlyaccount for climate change. Instead, the [government] must tackle adaptationissues head-on. This will require more research to better model and understandfuture impacts, a commitment to incorporating such research findings intoplanning, and on-the-ground projects that protect vulnerable communities andindustries.”[Alex Hall and Mark Gold (Institute of the Environment andSustainability at UCLA), Sac Bee, 02/26/17]

Napa Vision 2050 recommends that WICC to hold a Public Forum on themethodology used to create these reports and their conclusions. Methodologyshould also be the main topic at the May Watershed Symposium.

Daniel Mufson, PresidentNapa Vision 2050PO Box 2385Yountville, CA 94599Napavision2050

gmail.comwww.NapaVision2050.orgCC.Diane DillonRyan GregoryBelia RamosBrad Wagenknecht
Notes from Napa County Climate Action Plan, Appendix C, Climate ChangeVulnerability Assessment for Napa County, February, 2017

“For purposes of this assessment, where possible, climate change effects in theCounty are characterized for two periods of time: midcentury (around 2050) andthe end of the century (around 2100). Historical data are used to identify thedegree of change by these two future periods in time. The direct, or primary,changes analyzed for the County include average temperature, annualprecipitation, and sea-level rise. Secondary impacts, which can occur because ofindividual or a combination of these changes, are also assessed and includeextreme heat and its frequency, wildfire risk, and snowpack (CNRA2012a:16-17).”

“… the County is still currently vulnerable to water supply issues due to droughtand other factors. The County will face challenges in providing sufficient watersupplies in the future due to climate change effects, coupled with an increasingpopulation (i.e., mostly in the incorporated areas) and increasing water demand.While the County has already taken steps towards achieving long-termgroundwater sustainability, there is still a possibility that water supply availabilitymay change in the future and will need to be further addressed. [Appendix C21/26]”

“Increases in temperature, along with the frequency of extreme heat events andheat waves, can also affect the agriculture industry, which is a large driver of theCounty’s economy. The significant, overall outcome of warming is the likelyreduction in yield of some of California’s most valuable specialty crops (CNRA2014: 21). More specifically, climate change could have serious effects to thewine industry in Napa County, which produces an average of 90 percent ofAmerican wine (Mayton 2015). The County currently has 400 wineries,C-14 Napa County Draft Climate Action Plan producing more than 9.2 millioncases of wines totaling over $1 billion dollars in sales. The wine industry inNapa accounts for $10.1 billion of $51.8 billion economic impact fromwinemaking and related industries in California (Napa County 2013:28).Increases in temperature and moisture could impact the growing of winegrapes, by causing late or irregular blooming and affecting yields (Lee et al.2013:1). [C-13]”

“Increased average temperatures and a hastening of snowmelt in distantwatersheds, along with local and regional changes in precipitation and timing ofrunoff in local watersheds, could affect both surface and groundwater supplies inthe County. As a result, the County could struggle in the future in providingNapa County Draft Climate Action Plan C-15 adequate water supplies to itsresidents. Water users could face shortages in normal or dry years, if demandcontinues to increase. The points of sensitivity identified because of changes inprecipitation patterns are shown below in Figure 14.”

“In terms of agriculture, changes in timing and amounts of precipitation couldaffect local aquifer recharge for groundwater supplies in the future, which could inturn affect water supplies for agricultural uses. Conversely, as the weather getswarmer with climate change, agricultural demand for water could intensifybecause in extreme heat conditions water evaporates faster and plants needmore water to move through their circulatory systems to stay cool (CNRA2014:21). More specifically, attempts to maintain wine grape productivity andquality in the face of warming may be associated with increased water use forirrigation and to cool grapes through misting or sprinkling (Lee et al. 2013). [C-15]” The use of GW for misting was not mentioned in the Subbasin Report.

“A changing climate is expected to subject forests to increased stress due todrought, disease, invasive species, and insect pests. These stressors are likelyto make forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fire (Westerling 2008:231). Whileperiodic fires are natural processes and an important ecological function,catastrophic fire events that cannot be contained or managed, can cause seriousthreats to homes and infrastructure, especially for properties located at thewildland-urban interface (i.e., where residential development mingles withwildland areas) (California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection 2009). Ecologicalfunctions are further impacted as the risk of fire increases. When it does rain inburned areas, more soil washes off the hills and into roads, ditches, and streams.[C-16]”

Napa Valley Ground Water Sustainability-A Basin Analysis Report for theNapa Valley Subbasin

“The ability of the SWP to deliver water to its contractors in any given yeardepends on a number of factors, including rainfall, size of snowpack, runoff,water in storage, and pumping capacity in the Delta. Biological opinions onthreatened and endangered fish species are new significant factors affectingSWP deliveries. The actual delivery, or yield, varies from year to year and isdescribed as a percentage of the contractual entitlement. Annual SWP deliveriesare a percentage of Table A water, including additional amounts in some yearsfrom the carryover of unused allocations from prior years or water purchasedfrom the allocation of other SWP contractors. While 100% of the Table Aentitlement may be available in wet years, lesser amounts are delivered innormal, single-dry, and multiple-dry years. The current SWP Final DeliveryCapability Report 2015, issued in July 2015, projects that under existingconditions (2015), the average annual delivery of Table A water is estimated at61%. [78]”###

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