Your Water: Who has your back?

Letter to the Editor by Gary Margadant, May 27 2018


In our county, many homes and businesses use water to stay viable and meet the needs of their owners and renters. If water is to be available to all in disaster, drought and plenty, are all users willing to share responsibility to make sure your water sources are sustainable, clean and drinkable? Can you rely on your neighbors to be good neighbors?

Water passes through all our properties on the way to groundwater, rivers and reservoirs that serve us all, so what must we do to make sure this passing water meets our neighbors needs? Are we good at this sustainable thing? A couple of California water agencies say 'no' and are sending us warnings. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) says our groundwater basin has problems we need to monitor and fix. The Regional Water Quality Board says our rivers are chocked with high levels of silt that essentially make the native fish homeless, and we need to fix this too.

The DWR says the major problems for the groundwater come from various sources: Population, total wells, public wells, irrigated acres, water quality, salt water intrusion. They require a Sustainable Agency to manage our groundwater with transparency of use, for we know not what we do without a water meter.

The Water Quality Board says the major problems are vineyard development in the hills that expose the soils to erosion that carry the silt to the rivers. They require the vineyard owners fix this with Best Practices.

Good neighbors cannot duck their responsibilities to us all and these agencies will be watching over us to make sure we do the sustainability things that benefits us all. We should do the same.

Measure C is proposing a tried and true good neighbor method of sustainability.

Vote Yes on Measure C.

Gary Margadant

Mount Veeder

Measure C Protects the Water We All Need

Letter to the Editor by Warren Winiarski, May 27 2018


I am replying to the May 20 letter by Garrett Buckland of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (“Grapegrowers set the gold standard for land stewardship”). The grapegrowers are wonderful stewards of their vineyards. But their gold standard stewardship doesn’t address the main problem that Measure C targets, namely, preventing the exhaustion of the Napa Valley’s water resources.

Everyone in Napa County -- including towns, cities, small farmers, and residents -- depend on our common water resources, and these resources are supplied by oak woodlands. And, oak woodlands are finite. If we continue without limit to allow oak woodlands to be removed and replaced by vineyards and wineries, we destroy that land’s capacity to recharge water supplies in the Napa River basin. It’s not a question of how many more acres of farmlands we’ve protected than have other California counties. Thanks to our Agricultural Preserve, we’re doing great on that score.

It’s a question of supporting the existing farmlands and communities with enough water for their needs. If we keep chipping away at the oak woodlands we have, soon they’ll be gone and the vineyards that replace them won’t have the water they need to prosper. Everyone understands “overgrazing;” the sheep starve and the pasture is destroyed.

According to research by the Napa Valley Vintners, who helped write Measure C, Napa County could still add 5,000 acres of vineyards in the Ag Watershed without removing any oak trees. But sooner or later, we will hit the limit of how many acres can be farmed with the available water resources. We got ahead of the trend 50 years ago by creating the Agricultural Preserve and preventing urban sprawl. Now we need to get ahead of the trend again, this time by protecting the wineries, vineyards, communities and residents by preserving the water they all need.

Measure J (which was unopposed) included the following statement: “The unique character of Napa County and quality of life of County residents depend on the protection of a substantial amount of open space lands. The protection of such lands not only ensures the continued viability of agriculture, but also protects the available water supply and contributes to flood control and the protection of wildlife, environmentally sensitive areas, and irreplaceable natural resources.”

Please uphold Napa County’s long tradition of shared natural resources, and join us in voting 'yes' on Measure C.

Warren Winiarski


‘This is an eye-opener’: Changes in global water supply hint at future conflicts and crises

Dry, cracked Earth that used to be under Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, illustrates how water resources are shifting due to climate change and human activity. A new analysis using satellite data has identified more than 30 regions on Earth where the amount of stored water on the landscape has increased or decreased by an amount greater than the 32 billion ton storage capacity of Lake Mead.  JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Dry, cracked Earth that used to be under Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, illustrates how water resources are shifting due to climate change and human activity. A new analysis using satellite data has identified more than 30 regions on Earth where the amount of stored water on the landscape has increased or decreased by an amount greater than the 32 billion ton storage capacity of Lake Mead.


"“This is an eye-opener,” said Roy Brouwer, an economist and executive director of the University of Waterloo’s Water Institute who was not involved in the analysis. “It raises awareness that things are changing and that in some areas something has to happen to counter and anticipate some of the catastrophes that may be waiting for us in the not-so-far future.”


Researchers have published many results based on GRACE data but the new analysis, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, marks the first time all available observations from the mission, from April, 2002, to March, 2016, have been analyzed and assembled to provide a comprehensive map of water trends around the world. Those trends encompass changes in where water is stored across Earth’s surface, including groundwater, soil moisture, glaciers, snow cover and surface water. The result suggests a water landscape that is changing fast on a global scale, in large part due to human activity and climate change."

Two reasons for Yes on C

Letter to the Editor by Scott Sedgley, May 24, 2018




If you are a voter living in the city of Napa and you haven't yet found a reason to Vote Yes on Measure C, here are two: Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir. These reservoirs are our locally grown and locally distributed household water. The continued strip mining of the watershed above them in order to plant wine grapes is destroying their quality.

That is the science I believe. Please vote Yes on Measure C to protect our local water source.

Scott Sedgley

Napa City Council

We pay a price for our success

Letter to the Editor by Sally Kimsey, May 25, 2018



Does the number 347,460 mean anything to you? Probably not; but maybe it should. That is the number of visitors to wineries permits allowed by the county, just in the last year (according to a tally of 2017 approvals by former Supervisor Ginny Simms).

So, we all pay a price for the success of our leading industry, but we get their big help with taxes, jobs and good money, green vineyard spaces, some beautiful buildings, and our pride in our home.

There is one new set of facts: our climate in the years ahead will be more droughts, more heavy storms. And that brings us to the conservation and sharing of the one resource that none of us can live without: water.

Napa Valley water comes from the oak woodlands and forest that surround us in our hills. This watershed is the real source of all of our water in our streams, river, reservoirs and groundwater. About 70 percent of our water goes to agriculture, and we share happily. However, every home, especially the city residents, needs every drop that is left, and we realize that the times are changing.

Measure C is the answer for both our industry and our residents, because it limits the cutting of our watershed. Clear-cutting for crops is a very bad idea in our watershed.

Protect our water, our existing vineyards, and our environment.

Please vote Yes on Measure C.

Sally Kimsey

Pope Valley

Measure C is a sensible solution

Letter to the Editor by Linda Brown, May 25, 2018



When it comes to solving complex issues, reasonable people can disagree. This has certainly been the case on the question of how to best protect and preserve our watershed and woodlands, while simultaneously supporting our county’s agricultural-based economy. There is no perfect answer.

That said, I believe Measure C represents a real step in the right direction. Here are three reasons why:

Water – In light of our changing climate, we are faced with the prospect of prolonged drought and challenges to our available fresh water. Measure C will help reduce pressure on our limited water supplies.

Woodlands – Our oak woodlands support an amazing diversity of wildlife, including biological “hot spots” with unique species of flora and fauna. Moreover, our trees sequester carbon dioxide, reinforce hillsides from soil erosion, support riparian zones, and provide other important ecoservices. Measure C sets reasonable limits on tree removal associated with development, and increases the ratio of replanting required when trees are removed.

Compromise - Measure C is the much-improved successor of a similar initiative attempted last year. It was developed with an eye toward compromise – and I mean that in the best sense of the word. It is straightforward, but does not overreach.

Indeed, I believe the Napa wine industry will benefit from its provisions over the long run. (No doubt that is what some of the leaders of the wine industry thought, too, when they helped to write Measure C.)

I urge the sensible voters of Napa County to vote Yes on Measure C.

Linda Brown


St Helena City Council Resolution in Support of Measure C


A. The City of St. Helena owns and operates Bell Canyon Reservoir. The Bell Canyon watershed is approximately 3,647 acres. The City owns just 140.7 watershed acres, including the Reservoir.

B. Bell Canyon Reservoir is the primary source of drinking water for the City of Saint Helena. In consequence, it is essential that the Bell Canyon watershed be managed to protect the health and life safety of the residents of St. Helena.

C. As elected leaders of St. Helena, we have a fiduciary duty to ensure the health and life safety of our City’s residents. This duty includes doing our best to protect both the quality and quantity of water flowing into the Reservoir from its watershed.

D. Measure C establishes enhanced buffer zones around the watershed’s creeks and small streams. At a time of increasingly stringent drinking water quality standards and customer expectations, these enhanced zones provide much needed protection from chemical and sediment loading of the Reservoir that adversely affect both the quality and quantity of stored water.


NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of St. Helena resolves to endorse Measure C.

League of Women Voters Endorses Measure C

Endorses Measure C: Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection. 

The LWV Napa County endorses Measure C. Its position statement is as follows: The League has long supported actions that promote the health of our natural environment, with emphasis on conservation and high standards of water quality. Maintaining pristine streams, rivers, wetlands, and the watershed are of utmost importance in ensuring reliable water supplies into the future. Our analysis of Measure C is in keeping with LWVUS and LWVCA positions developed over years of study, and the LWVNC is proud to endorse this initiative. LWVNC has studied the opposition’s arguments and found them lacking in long-term visioning and factual substance.


In California wine country, environmentalists and vintners have kept an uneasy peace. Corporate overreach and damage to the environment are threatening to fracture it.

Sophie Yeo for Pacific Standard, May 24, 2018

(Photo: Richard Price/Unsplash)

(Photo: Richard Price/Unsplash)

"Residents of Napa County are losing patience with the wine industry. At the heart of their frustration is Walt Ranch, a proposed 200-acre mega-vineyard that, if it goes ahead, will remove thousands of trees from the steep slopes of the valley. But this latest dispute is also part of a more deeply rooted anger over the corporate powers that have come to dominate this Californian Eden...

""It's an environmental project, but it's turned into a political one because there seems to be a lack of democratic process here in Napa County. If the rich and powerful control the government, then the citizens are being ignored, and that's what's happening here.""

Read the full article here

Measure C is for the many, not the few

Letter to the Editor by Richard Cannon, May 23, 2018



We elect officials like county Supervisors to protect our interests. In theory, this is how our system of government works.

In practice, however, we know this does not always happen. That is not to say that there are not elected individuals who put the interests of their constituents first and the interest of large campaign contributors second. But unfortunately money talks and its voice is often louder than that of the multitudes.

If you read the May 1 letter to the editor by Mike Hackett and Jim Wilson ("Time’s Up: To protect local water supplies, Napa County voters must approve Measure C"), you will know that three supervisors pledged their support for Measure C. Why did they do this? Because Measure C was a cooperative effort which included the Napa Valley Vintners.

That being the case, it was safe for supervisors to be supportive of Measure C. But that changed when some of the louder voices within the NVV protested. Now it was no longer safe for supervisors to support Measure C and they have become silent on the issue. But even their silence speaks.

We, the people, cannot really fault the supervisors. Supervisors are captives of the system which put them in power. So when money speaks, as it has in the campaign to defeat Measure C, voters need to speak with the only voice they have; the ballot.

Measure C is about protecting our water supply. The question voters will decide is who will have control of the watersheds that are responsible for the water that shows up in our creeks, streams, rivers, reservoirs and aquifers? Who will control our water supply? Will it be those who clearly own the land on which the watersheds exist? Or will it be those who will suffer irreplaceable loss if the water supply they depend on is damaged because watersheds are destroyed?

Will the few gain while the many lose?

It really is a David-and-Goliath battle. And we cannot depend on the supervisors to supply the stones for our sling. We have to do that with our votes.

As you consider your vote on Measure C, remember the NVV were involved in drafting the measure as it now appears on your ballot. They even shared the cost of legal counsel during the drafting process.

Consider also that the written statements submitted for inclusion in the voter pamphlet by the “No on C” folks had to be changed because they admitted in court that many of their statements were false and misleading. Some of those false and misleading statements now appear on “No on C” campaign literature and signs.

Who will win this battle? The Goliath of big money and special interest? Or will we, the people, send a message to both big money and silent representatives elected to protect the interest of the many?

Vote 'yes' on C: speak now to the silence of those elected to protect your interests.

Richard A. Cannon