SodaCanyonRoad | Well info Request

Well info Request
Yeoryios Apallas | Jun 7, 2014 on: Mountain Peak Winery

[letter sent to Sweveta Sharma regarding proposed new well]

Dear Ms. Sharma:

In regard to my request for information pertaining to the Mountain PeakVineyard/Winery (Project Address 3265 Soda Canyon Road, Napa, CA 94558; APN032-500-0330), I specifically asked for the applicant's plans regarding afuture well to be dug on the above referenced parcel. The proposed well isshown on the Overall Site Plan submitted by the applicant, a Mr. Hua Yuan,and his engineer Bartelt, etc. The well is depicted in schematic UP1 whichis a public document and part of the Use Permit Application which wassubmitted about two weeks ago or so.

When I inquired about the size of the well that will be dug at the site youadvised me that the information is not available to the general public. You, of course, are mistaken. What is not available to the public is thereport prepared, pursuant to Section 13751 of the California Water Code, bythe well driller. I cite to your attention the California Water CodeSections 13751 and 13752 that address this point.

13751. (a) Every person who digs, bores, or drills a water well,cathodic protection well, groundwater monitoring well, or geothermalheat exchange well, abandons or destroys such a well, or deepens orreperforates such a well, shall file with the department a report ofcompletion of that well within 60 days from the date itsconstruction, alteration, abandonment, or destruction is completed. (b) The report shall be made on forms furnished by the departmentand shall contain information as follows: (1) In the case of a water well, cathodic protection well, orgroundwater monitoring well, the report shall contain information asrequired by the department, including, but not limited to all of thefollowing information: (A) A description of the well site sufficiently exact to permitlocation and identification of the well. (B) A detailed log of the well. (C) A description of type of construction. (D) The details of perforation. (E) The methods used for sealing off surface or contaminatedwaters. (F) The methods used for preventing contaminated waters of oneaquifer from mixing with the waters of another aquifer. (G) The signature of the well driller. (2) In the case of a geothermal heat exchange well, the reportshall contain all of the following information: (A) A description of the site that is sufficiently exact to permitthe location and identification of the site and the number ofgeothermal heat exchange wells drilled on the same lot. (B) A description of borehole diameter and depth and the type ofgeothermal heat exchange system installed. (C) The methods and materials used to seal off surface orcontaminated waters. (D) The methods used for preventing contaminated water in oneaquifer from mixing with the water in another aquifer. (E) The signature of the well driller.

13752. Reports made in accordance with paragraph (1) of subdivision(b) of Section 13751 shall not be made available for inspection bythe public, but shall be made available to governmental agencies foruse in making studies, or to any person who obtains a writtenauthorization from the owner of the well. However, a reportassociated with a well located within two miles of an area affectedor potentially affected by a known unauthorized release of acontaminant shall be made available to any person performing anenvironmental cleanup study associated with the unauthorized release,if the study is conducted under the order of a regulatory agency. Areport released to a person conducting an environmental cleanup studyshall not be used for any purpose other than for the purpose ofconducting the study.

The information I seek is not part of a report prepared under Section13751(b)(1). No such report has been prepared because the well has not yetbeen dug. Moreover, to the extent that applicant does have even a colorableclaim to the protection of Section 13752, quoted above, he has waived suchsince he, through his engineers, has voluntarily disclosed portions of hisintent to drill a new well and has identified with some precision, thelocation of said proposed well. See, UP1.

I am seeking this information for the simple purpose of determining theimpact of this well on the surrounding properties and the continuedviability of their wells which for many provide their drinking water.Clearly, the impact of a 4" bore is far less than the impact of a 16" wellwhich we understand is what Mr. Hua Yuan has in mind. If the size of thebore is 16" you can imagine the amount of acre feet per year that such awell will draw. And since the County has no more idea than a goose aboutthe amount of groundwater that exists in the eastern hills--(there exist nocredible reports, indeed the undersigned is aware of none, that have studiedin a scientific and systematic manner through monitoring wells)--where thisproject will be located, the neighbors are very anxious about the impactthat such a well will have on the availability of their water. Finally,from a public policy perspective, if the County continues to cling to itslegally unsupportable position that such information is shielded bySection13751, it can with such artifice, stifle meaningful environmentalanalysis by the impacted neighbors by straight arming their legitimaterequest for information that has, at the very least, been voluntarydisclosed by the applicant in his use permit. I urge you to reconsider yourembargo to my very simple information request.

As you begin your career in the Napa County Planning Department (Iunderstand that you have just come on board in the last several months) Iurge you to read the County's 2008 General Plan and specifically itsConservation Element. Of interest in this matter is Conservation PolicyNos. 52 and 53 which in relevant part state:

"Con-52 'The County encourages responsible use and conservation ofgroundwater resources by way of its groundwater ordinances."

"Con-53 'The County shall ensure that the intensity and timing of newdevelopment are consistent with the capacity of water supplies and protectgroundwater and other water supplies by requiring all applicants fordiscretionary projects to demonstrate the availability of an adequate watersupply prior to approval. ..May include evidence or calculation ofgroundwater availability..." Since the County has never undertaken a studyof groundwater availability in at least atop the Soda Canyon area, how canthe county possibly meet the policy in Conv-53? The hypothetical assumptionthat there is 1/2 acre foot of water for each acre of land, as articulatedin the 2007 Water Availability Analysis (2007 WAA--an update to the 1991WAA) prepared by Napa County's Public Works Department unabashedly admitsthat "...there is limited information available on Napa County groundwaterbasins, in general (with the exception of the MST basin)" and thus forconvenient analysis resorts to the fiction that there exists 1/2 acre footper acre of land in the hills such as Soda Canyon and Atlas Peak. What theneighbors of this project are trying to do through this request andconsequent analysis is bring light where only medieval darkness now exists.

I am renewing my request for a very simple piece of information--thediameter of the new well. I am not asking any information from any reportthat may have been prepared under Section 13751 of the Water Code, forindeed no such report can now possibly exist since the well has not beendug. Consequently the benefit of that information cannot possibly fallwithin the sphere of protection under Section 13752. Your position in thisregard is untenable, without merit, and arbitrary.

I strongly urge you to talk to your principal planner on this project andthe planning director regarding this matter. If the county continues tohold this position, I will seek appropriate relief in a proper venue.

Thank you for your continued consideration of my request. As time is of theessence, I kindly request that you respond to this email by close ofbusiness, Monday, June 9, 2014.


Yeoryios C. Apallas