Eyes on Napa - September 6, 2022
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The Napa County GSA Appoints:
"Technical Advisors" or "Industry Lobbyists"?
Every Californian and Every Napan is a Stakeholder - Don't Let the Wine Industry Dominate Control of Our Water
And a Victory for Local Waterways and Fish

Our Board of Supervisors (BOS) is doing nothing to address the overdraft of the aquifer in the subbasin of Napa Valley, even though they know we are using more water than is being replenished.

After appointing itself to the state-mandated Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), the BOS/GSA chose the individuals for the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). TAG is a recommendation in the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The County was mandated to submit a GSP to the Department of Water Resources in January 2022, delineating how we will manage our groundwater sustainably.

The Problem? The Napa County BOS/GSA has stated that it will not act on the GSP until it receives recommendations from TAG.
To date, no actions have been recommended or taken, despite our deepening drought.

TAG was intended to be an apolitical group representing experts in various scientific fields related to groundwater and surface water (see letters below). Sadly, the TAG membership issue is fraught with politics and opinion.  Three of the five represent wine industry agricultural interests and concerns, and none represent fisheries, aquatic ecology, or botany. 

Three letters to the California Department of Resources from Save Napa Valley Foundation (SNVF) and one from the Napa Sierra Club explain the situation. Read the SNVF letters here and here

As Mike Hackett recently stated in a Napa Register LTE, “In March, Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on drought mandated GSAs to review many new well permits. While other GSAs have taken drastic actions following this order, ours has done the least legally allowed. The GSA/BOS has delayed at every turn, even though they know we’re extracting more water than comes in. At their March 22 meeting, the GSA heard that several groundwater management thresholds had been exceeded. County Planning Director David Morrison explained, “the curve is accelerating in terms of the drought.” He said, “the problem is, the aquifer is not recovering because we’re not getting the rain for the  aquifer to recover.” Read the full letter here.

Has our Board of Supervisors been taken over by development interests, or is this simply incompetence? The Governor of California, the California Attorney General, and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) appear ready to act if our county cannot.

According to a recent article from Calmatters, to date, the DWR has approved only 8 of the submitted GSPs, returning 35 GSPs to local GSAs to improve. "If the state approves local groundwater management plans that aren’t sustainable, more wells will go dry, people will lose water, wetlands will wither, and animals will die."

Our GSP, as administered, is proving to be ineffectual. It is critically important that we contact the DWR and ask that they monitor our serious situation in Napa County until we have a local government that can and does. Jackson Cook is the DWR contact for the Napa Valley subbasin. You can contact him at or call him at 916-376-9623. Let's make sure our county addresses our increasingly severe water overdraft.

 Attend the Next Meeting of the GSA's Technical Advisory Group Via Zoom - See the box below for details. 

Also - See further reading below with some excellent work by the local Sierra Club Napa Group. 

Napa GSA Technical Advisory Group Meeting
Sept. 8th at 1:30 pm, by Zoom

The second meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Napa Groundwater Sustainability Agency (NCGSA) will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, at 1:30 pm.  Location: 
This meeting will be ZOOM ONLY.  

Meeting materials and instructions to join by Zoom can be found here:  
Napa County - Calendar (

White Paper on Water Sustainability Management
by the Sierra Club Napa Group

Read it here
How is water monitoring like a bird striking a window?
by Roland Dumas, PhD

"The complex Napa sub-basin model forecasts stability of supply for decades without degradation of groundwater supply. Yet, that model didn’t predict the recent past of a string of years of overdraft of the aquifer. Conditions are different than the model understands; it couldn’t predict the obvious."

Read the entire article here on the subject of problems with the Napa GSA in the Napa Sierra Club Group Newsletter. 
Ending on a Happier Note - A Little Good News 
Removing Fish Barriers in Napa County Waterways
In recent years, Refugia Project studied our Napa County ecosystems and identified at least 51 fish barriers, many illegal. The project was funded by a group of citizens, Save Napa Valley Foundation. Resource Conservation District and Water Audit are now seeking grants to fund the removal of these barriers, a step NOAA Fisheries says is one step to help our salmonoid populations. Read The Napa Valley Register coverage here

What is important about this decision?
It’s a beginning! Let’s think of fish and the health of the ecosystem over development. Our waterways are in trouble with turbidity and dewatered by overpumping of wells near creeks and the Napa River. As NOAA Fisheries stated, removing barriers is what can be done now.
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Eyes on Napa: Co-editors, Patricia Damery and Debby Fortune, Editorial Board: Eve Kahn, Gary Margadant, Rusty Cohn, Iris Barrie. Contact the editors at