Napa, Sonoma vineyards face new watershed regulations

Vineyard owners in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds are facing new regulations after a decision by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting July 12.

The decision is the result of a lengthy environmental-impact report years in the making that addresses protection of species and habitat in the area.

The requirements are aimed at 'regulating discharges from vineyard properties to achieve discharge performance standards for sediment and storm runoff and control pesticide and nutrient discharges,' the regulations said.

The action also aims to protect 'habitat for federally listed steelhead populations, locally rare Chinook salmon populations and exceptionally diverse native fish assemblages.'

There was no timeline given as to when the adoption would go into affect, and specifics on reporting to the regional board were not announced.

The watersheds contain an estimated 162,000 acres of vineyard properties, with 59,000 acres planted in grapes, from which there are or may be discharges of sediment and concentrated storm runoff that affect water quality.

Most vineyard properties, where 5 acres or more are planted in wine grapes, would be required to report to the regional office.

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers has taken some exception to the new regulations. Growers in the county already have a long track record of protecting the watersheds, and regional agricultural organizations are working with new technology to monitor the environment, said Molly Moran of Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

'Local growers definitely want to stay progressive, but there are concerns the regulations will exacerbate the pressure especially on small farms. We would have liked more time to work with the board,' she said.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at or call 707-521-4259.

Show Comment

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette