The California Water Model: Resilience through Failure

“A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes.  California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.  Similar water imperatives have led to advances in water management in other parts of the world.  A close …

Mount Veeder winery wins Napa County approval

The Planning Commission last week approved the 20,000-gallon-a-year winery. The planned 4,638-square-foot building at 2072 Mount Veeder Road will replace a house and barn that burned in the 2017 Nuns fire… Water Audit California, meanwhile, urged the county to deny the application. Grant Reynolds of the group wrote that Pickle Canyon Creek runs through the …

Re “Fire, Drought and Heat Scorch the Land of Reds and Whites”

“The current scale of wine production, driven in part by global business interests, is impossible to support as the megadrought continues. It is time to accept this new reality, to get our land use and water policies in order, and to focus on learning from people who are pouring their time, money and energy into finding new and more sustainable ways to live with our changing environment.”

Scorched, Parched, and Now Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits Wine Country

“In Napa Valley, the lush heartland of America’s high-end wine industry, climate change is spelling calamity. Not outwardly: On the main road running through the small town of St. Helena, tourists still stream into wineries with exquisitely appointed tasting rooms. …But drive off the main road, and the vineyards that made this valley famous — …

Indigenous people gather in St. Helena to honor Napa River

“Descendants of the Pomo, Mishewal Wappo and other native peoples gathered at Wappo Park on Sunday to pay tribute to the Napa River through speech, song and prayer. “Life is water and water is life,” said Sal Garcia-Pinola, a member of the Pomo. Sunday’s gathering took place amid a severe drought that has resulted in …

So much for the Public Trust

“If there is going to be another lawsuit, I suspect it will involve commercial development vs. public trust if or when development of any kind in St. Helena can even be considered given our critical water crisis. I truly hope I am wrong about that, particularly considering the significant amount of general fund money and …

Napa County sued over care of Napa River

“Water Audit California is suing to make Napa County increase oversight of groundwater pumping for vineyards, wineries, and other uses, claiming that the pumping affects the Napa River. The lawsuit said the county has a “public trust” duty to care for the river. The idea is that too much groundwater pumping from wells can keep …

City of St. Helena reaches agreement with water watchdog group

“The City of St. Helena has agreed to monitor local groundwater levels and stream flows, averting a potential lawsuit from an environmental advocacy group. Following months of negotiations, the city and Water Audit California released a joint statement Friday announcing the city will collect monthly water levels and annual extraction totals for local wells and …

By a 3-2 vote, Napa County agrees Bremer Winery barn can stay

“Bremer Family Winery found a bright spot in its long tussle with the county over what’s legal on the Deer Park property — it can keep a masonry barn and a bathroom built within a stream setback. In an appeals hearing on Dec. 8, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to overturn a Planning Commission …

Water environmental group threatens Calistoga with lawsuit, again

“CALISTOGA — Stemming from litigation dating back to 2008, the City of Calistoga is confronted again with a long-standing threat from an environmental group over the operation of Kimball Dam. Grant Reynolds, a director of Water Audit California, delivered a letter to the City of Calistoga on Monday criticizing the city for not fulfilling its …

Environmental group threatens to sue St. Helena over groundwater extraction

“ST. HELENA — An environmental advocacy group is threatening to sue the City of St. Helena over its handling of groundwater. Grant Reynolds, a director of Water Audit California, delivered a letter to the city on Monday criticizing its use of the Stonebridge wells for municipal use and “a pattern of exercising no discretion” in …

Small Dam, Big Deal: York Dam Removed in Napa Valley

“The recent removal of the sediment-filled York Dam in Napa County has reconnected two miles of steelhead trout habitat that has been blocked for over a century. While the dam itself was small and non-functional, it took nearly 30 years to accomplish removal. Thousands of barriers to stream flow and fish passage similar in size …

York Creek Dam Removal Sets Stage For Environmental Restoration In Napa

“In a quiet corner of Napa County, tucked away in the hills above its famous valley, a bucolic trickle of a creek is now flowing free after languishing behind a dam for more than a century. The waters of York Creek began their unabated journey to the Napa River on Sept. 14 for the first …

Napa County gives split decision in Bremer winery stream case

“Another Bremer Family Winery brouhaha, this one over a barn and other structures built too close to a stream, landed in the laps of Napa County planning commissioners with the subtlety of a live grenade. The Planning Commission on Wednesday decided by separate votes that two structures can stay and two must go. John and …

St. Helena City Council awards $3.2 million contract for York Creek dam removal

“The St. Helena City Council awarded a $3.2 million contact this week to an Arcata firm to remove the Upper York Creek Dam. McCullough Construction will be charged with notching the dam, restoring the creek’s aquatic habitat, and removing an illegal barrier to fish passage that the city first agreed to remove in 2006. Work …

[Napa Vision 2050] Water Audit California: Bremer Family Winery

“On June 23, 2020, Water Audit California sent the following extraordinary letter to the Napa County Planning Commission, staff, county counsel, and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The authors raise a number of issues regarding the processing of the Bremer matter that should be of concern to all of us. We feel compelled …

Watershed forum looks to defuse Napa County water issues

“Various environmentalists are saying that the old adage about “water being for fighting over” doesn’t have to apply to Napa County. The group called Water Audit California has used lawsuits to pry water releases from local reservoirs for fish and has threatened a groundwater-related lawsuit against Napa County. The group last week co-sponsored a forum …

Napa County’s winery streamlining plan faces legal threat

“Napa County intends to cut red tape for what it deems to be modest winery expansion requests, even though a group called Water Audit California warned of possible legal action. County officials said the goal is simply to move consideration of more routine decisions from the Planning Commission to county staff, such as adding a …

As Yountville reservoir falls, state studies supply – and possible water purchases from Napa

“YOUNTVILLE — Even with California’s lengthy drought in the rear-view mirror, the reservoir feeding Yountville and the Veterans Home of California is running low. Just how low may determine what the town – and state regulators – do to curb water use and boost supplies as the dryness of summer approaches. New monitoring equipment at …

After environmental lawsuit, St. Helena agrees to bypass more water into creek

“ST. HELENA — The City Council has approved a short-term plan to bypass more water from Bell Canyon Reservoir into Bell Creek, in response to a lawsuit claiming that the city has degraded fish habitat in the creek by historically capturing too much water in the reservoir. The council also approved contracts to install equipment …

St. Helena threatened with lawsuit over stalled dam removal

“ST. HELENA — An environmental advocacy group that sued the city last year over water diversion at Bell Canyon Reservoir is now threatening a separate lawsuit over the long delay in the removal of the Upper York Creek Dam. Grant Reynolds of Water Audit California, a public benefit corporation, wrote a letter to the city …

City of St. Helena sued over water diversion

“An environmental advocate who filed a claim against the city of St. Helena in May has now sued the city for allegedly failing to bypass enough water into Bell Creek. According to a lawsuit filed Aug. 10 in Napa Superior Court by Water Audit California, the city has violated state regulatory limits on the diversion …