[caption id="attachment_92842" align="aligncenter" width="550"] The groundwater-challenged Miliken-Sarco-Tulocay area east of Napa includes the Coombsville American Viticultural Area. (Photo credit: Coombsville Vintners & Growers)[/caption]
NAPA -- While many of the aquifers in Napa Valley have been found to be adequately supplied with moisture, a region east of Napa found known to be groundwater-poor may be closer to getting a 325 million-gallon-a-year lifeline with $1.5 million in new federal funds approved toward the planned Milliken-Sarco-Tulocay recycled-water pipeline.
The North Bay Water Reuse Program received the funds to expand Napa Sanitation District's treatment of wastewater and build a larger pipeline that can carry 1,000 acre-feet of highly treated water annually to grapegrowers and large-scale landscaping in the area. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, or enough for the annual water use of up to four residents.
“This is another critical step in helping us deliver much-needed water for vineyard and landscape irrigation in the Coombsville/MST area,” said Napa Mayor Jill Techel in a statement.
The money comes in a grant from the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamatioin WaterSMART program, which funded nine California water-reuse projects with $20 million this year. The North Bay project has received funds from that program for the past four years.
The 25 percent federal cost share has provided the incentive for many property owners to participate, according to Napa County Supervisor Keith Caldwell, a past chairman and member of the North Bay Water Reuse Authority (707-235-8965, nbwra.org), a 10-utility agency that oversees the program.
"It is the 25 percent federal share that made this project attractive to the landowners so that they were willing to put up the additional 75 percent,” he said in a statement. "That has been key in making this project work."
Groundwater in the Milliken-Sarco-Tulocay, or MST, area, which includes the relatively new winegrowing region of Coombsville, was deemed have been severely overdrawn in a 1999 county study. Development in the area was curtailed by county ordinance in 2004.
It "suffers from severe overdraft, and we have no idea what this drought is going to do to that," Supervisor Caldwell said. "But everyone would agree that it can't be good. It's not going to help it recover."