Bill Hocker | Sep 28, 2021Update 9/28/21
Karrigan Bork and Amber Manfree have recently published an article in ABA's Environment, Energy and Resources Section
sumerizing the efforts of Water Audit California to compel sufficient water flow in the Napa River system to insure the survival of native fish species.
Rewatering Napa's Rivers
After laying out the legal environment that Water Audit is operating within and the value of public trust doctrine
litigation, the outcome is that re-watering the Napa river has been augmented not by reducing water for other uses, but regulating the the timing of water releases from the system's dams. Of course it took science-based litigation and public involvement, to encourage water managers to implement the solution.
In an age of warming weather and diminishing water resources, this will probably be a temporary fix if the water resources of the county continue to be depleted by more development. Knowing that, Water Audit California has also sued the County of Napa
over the groundwater pumping that enables the winery and vineyard conversion projects they continue to approve.
The saga of the County's effort to produce a Groundwater Sustainability Plan is here.
(Public Meetings to present the Plan are being held on 9/22/21, 9/29/21 and 10/6/21. Register here.
St. Helena lawsuit
Water Audit CA LTE 6/23/21: Water issues require decisive action
SH Star 6/19/21: Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management
Water Audit Calif 6/17/21: Water Audit Sues St. Helena Over Alleged Failure to Uphold Public Trust
NVR 6/3/21: Napa County sued over care of Napa River
Water Audit CA 6/2/21: Water Audit files suit against Napa County
(Text of Lawsuit)
The lawsuit calls out numerous projects approved just in the last year that it feels did not receive appropriate groundwater review, Mountain Peak among them, and enumerates the other 200+ projects waiting in the planning department queue. It gives a specific breakdown of the water use for one example project, The Inn at the Abbey
. The example seemed quite apt, because the project represents winery hotels as the new direction in vineyard buildout. The site for the hotel is ±5 acres counting parking. The project will use 21.68 acre feet of water, over 4 acre ft per acre per year. The County assumes a water availability of 1 acre ft per year per acre for vineyard property on the valley floor. Hotels are incredibly water intensive uses (second only hospitals) , and this particular example shows how the continuing shift from agriculture to tourism might impact water resources in Napa. My screed on on the potential "Balination" of Napa is here.
Update 6/22/20 2020 Water Forum
Water Audit CA: The Napa Water Forum and The Refugia Project Update
NVR 2/10/20: Watershed forum looks to defuse Napa County water issues
Water Audit CA, a public benefit corporation that has filed numerous lawsuits against water agencies in the state of California for failure to provide enough water to maintain fish habitats, has served notice of potential legal action to the Napa County Board of Supervisors to court over a new winery streamlining ordinance that will induce development of additional vineyard and winery estates.
Water Audit California Notice of Intended Litigation
(from this Napavision2050 article
SCR on the Streamlining ordinance
Water Audit has also sued the Kimball
and Bell Reservoir
Issues about the Rector Reservoir outflow and the Water Audit lawsuit are here