By Napa Vision 2050 Board Officer, Gary Margadant
Gary Margadant is on the board of the Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council and has actively researched and advocated for effective groundwater management in Napa County for many years.
Four years ago California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which required areas designated groundwater deficient to demonstrate that the basin was being actively managed. Napa County prepared a report in which they, and their consultants, claimed a demonstrated history of groundwater management. Napa Vision 2050 and many others [see below] found fault with that assessment and reported their concerns to the State’s Department of Water Resources (DWR). The DWR rejected the County’s assertion, the county spent more money countering and most recently, the DWR issued a final rejection.
In its required, and submitted, report to the state, Napa County failed to provide evidence of meeting all the necessary required thresholds. The state denied the county’s proposal, deeming it inadequate. This leaves the county with three choices:
1) Do nothing and then the state will take over the aquifer management.
2) Form a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) to properly manage the aquifer as directed by the state in its last response.
3) Sue the state for incorrect management of the SGMA (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) law.
Should Napa County decide to pursue legal action, Napa Vision 2050 stands in strong opposition. This would incur an enormous cost to the county and presents an unacceptable delay for all residents of Napa County, leaving no emergency plans for a disastrous and quite possible incoming period of drought.
As with the wildfires, if we have not developed emergency plans and prepared our property to be fire-safe, a disaster awaits. We as a county, do not need another level of disaster because the county failed to properly investigate and manage our underground water resources. Napa County needs to form a non-partisan, scientist and citizen-based GSA to properly, and equitably manage the aquifer, using the best possible up-to-date methods and data collection, unsullied by local industry influencers.
Note from the Editors:
If the county is incapable or unwilling to do this job properly, perhaps the best solution is to allow the state to step in and manage the SGMA requirements. If our local government is not up to the job or has succumbed to the lobbying of Big Agriculture and gluttonous grape growing, then it may be preferable, and politically unpolluted by industry pressure, for the state to take over. Could this be the ethical, long term solution?