Vineyard development isn't appropriate everywhere

Letter to the Editor by John Dunlap, May 29 2018


It was 50 years ago that Napa County supervisors took the brave vote to create the Ag Preserve.

With that beginning, land was set aside for agriculture, and within a few short years, the Napa Valley became known world-wide for wine.

After these years, it is becoming clear that vineyard agriculture is not the right choice for everywhere in the Valley. Clear-cutting our forested hills to plant vineyards turns out to be a threat to our climate, our air quality, and especially, our water supply. Vineyards use about 70 percent of our water, and the weather is changing to periodic droughts.

I am supporting Measure C , because it gives citizens the chance to protect our woods and hills. Voting Yes on Measure C is protecting our future, both for the vineyards and our homes.

John Dunlap



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.

DWR Releases Draft Prioritization of Groundwater Basins Under SGMA

Post from Maven's Notebook, May 18, 2018

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released a draft prioritization of groundwater basins as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The 2018 SGMA Basin Prioritization is scheduled to be finalized by fall 2018 after a public comment period that starts today and runs through July 18.

SGMA requires local agencies throughout the state to sustainably manage groundwater basins. Under the act, DWR is required to prioritize groundwater basins and direct high- and medium-priority basins to meet a timeline of targets on the path to sustainability. The 2018 SGMA Basin Prioritization released today is a reassessment of the 2016 update of Bulletin 118 Basin Boundaries.

“Sustainably managing groundwater is a critical component of California’s efforts to build a more resilient and reliable water system,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The Department of Water Resources is committed to working with Groundwater Sustainability Agencies throughout the state to bring basins into sustainability. This prioritization is crucial to that work. We must plan ahead so this vital resource is available for Californians today and in years to come.”



Read more here at The Maven's Notebook

For more information visit the basin prioritization website at https://www.water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Basin-Prioritization



Measure C: Preserve Napa Valley oaks, protect our water

Opinion, San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 2018

Photo: Craig Lee / The Chronicle 2006

Photo: Craig Lee / The Chronicle 2006

Napa County is facing a heated election over a grassroots citizen’s initiative. Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, would protect long-term water supplies for agriculture, including vineyards, as well as for residents, by capping the number of oak trees that can be removed without a permit from the county’s agricultural watershed zone. Ensuring a stable water supply benefits the wine industry directly, which is why some of the region’s most prominent winemakers enthusiastically support Measure C.

Water is a finite resource, and there is no life — or wine — without it. Napa County is on the brink of a water crisis, whether Measure C’s opponents are willing to admit it or not.

On May 18, the California Department of Water Resources released its draft prioritization of groundwater basins in need of oversight, and the Napa River basin was identified as a high priority. This analysis comes after Napa County provided misleading information to regulators that overstated the stability of local groundwater supplies by cherry-picking data. State regulators didn’t buy it.

Napa County’s water supplies need protections now, not after we’ve planted more wine grapes than we can irrigate. Unfortunately, county leaders are more dedicated to the wants of the wine industry than the needs of the community. Because county leaders will not take action to protect our water, we turned to the initiative process.

After years of seeing Napa County officials skew land-use decisions to favor deep-pocketed wine industry interests, we launched this campaign to protect our hillside watershed lands. Measure C’s proponents partnered with the board of a wine industry trade group, Napa Valley Vintners, to negotiate the language now before voters. This measure is a reasonable compromise that allows for a limited amount of additional clearing of oak trees in exchange for tightened regulations. These regulations — things like increased buffer zones around streams and wetlands — are based on current science that is referenced in many of Napa County’s own planning documents.

Napa Valley Vintners helped to cover legal costs associated with its drafting and met with members of the Board of Supervisors with us to support its passage. Unfortunately, a vocal opposition from the Napa Valley Vintners’ membership pressured the group to abandon its support.

For years, the growth of large, corporate wineries has shifted the balance of power in Napa County to favor outside interests. The ongoing consolidation of what was once a valley of small wineries has led to an increasingly aggressive wine hospitality culture focused more on short-term profits than environmental sustainability or quality of life for residents.

Napa County’s hillside oak woodlands promote groundwater recharge, reduce flood risk, prevent erosion and siltation of waterways, and provide a buffer against drought. As we lose woodlands, we lose these protections.

Today, hillsides are clear cut to make room for grape vines. Event centers and tasting rooms are granted retroactive approvals — even when they defy local zoning regulations — and unfettered winery expansion is causing traffic congestion.

Everyone living or working in and around Napa County benefits, whether directly or indirectly, from a thriving wine industry. But ensuring the continued vitality of our local economy requires protecting our water supplies.

We urge every Napa Valley resident to vote “yes” on Measure C — for our water, for our future, for us all.

Mike Hackett and Jim Wilson are co-chairs of Napa County’s Yes on C campaign.



Battle for Napa Valley’s future: Proposed curb on vineyards divides county

Sierra Club is for Measure C




A Letter to the Editor - St. Helena Star by Diane Shepp - Sierra Club Representative


Two opponents of Measure C have signed election documents representing themselves as “Sierra Club Member” and “Former Sierra Club Board Member” to which we take strong exception as attempts to mislead voters in the face of approval by the Sierra Club at all levels to endorse Measure C.

"Sierra Club has confidence in Napa County voters and calls upon our membership to join and vote YES on Measure C."


Read Diane's letter here:

Time to vote YES on Measure C




Letter to the Editor - Napa Valley Register by Geoff Nelson



Even though Napa has been a leader in sustainability, we all feel the negative effects of the explosive growth. As a wine grower for 30 years, I feel it’s time for Yes on C.


Read Geoff's entire letter here:

Reasons to vote 'yes' on Measure C




Letter to the Editor - Napa Valley Register by Harry Price



There have been a lot of dire claims from Measure C’s opponents about the negative effects Measure C would have on Napa County, but I urge all Napa County voters to ask themselves a few simple questions with their ballots in their hands:

1. Does it make sense that saving trees would raise taxes?

2. Does it make sense that saving trees would increase local traffic?

3. Does it make sense that saving trees would destroy the beauty of our valley?

4. Does it make sense that saving trees from development would cause event centers to spring up?

If you agree with me that none of the above makes common sense, then join me in voting YES on Measure C.

Passage of Measure C won’t solve our environmental problems but will help: help save our oak woodlands; help create more oxygen for us to breathe; help provide food and shelter for wildlife; help reduce carbon dioxide to offset global warming; help to reduce sediment in our waterways and will help re-charge our water supply.

Any one of the above is reason to vote 'yes' on Measure C. Measure C will point us in the right direction. Join me in voting YES on Measure C.

Harry Price


Historic drought takes toll on South Africa's vineyards

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The worst drought in living memory has hit vineyards in South Africa’s Western Cape hard, reducing grape harvests and adding to pressure on the region’s centuries-old wine industry, officials said on Tuesday.

Read the entire article here:


Invest in watershed improvements, not taller dams.

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Watershed conservation is one of the least expensive solutions to ensure greater water quantity, quality and security, cheaper than building new infrastructure and certainly more cost effective than the initially estimated $1.3 billion price tag to raise Shasta Dam. Unlike large dam infrastructure projects, which consistently have cost and time overruns, natural infrastructure projects have been accomplished under budget and on time. New York City, for example, used watershed conservation policies in the 1990s to clean city water more cheaply than by building a new water treatment plant.


Read entire article here:

Don't be mislead by mailers.




Letter to the editor - Napa Valley Register by Yeoryios C. Apallas



"For several weeks now, the opposition to Measure C has spent a great deal of money spreading, what in my opinion is, materially misleading information about Measure C and its impacts on the watershed and the wine industry’s ability to plant vineyards into our precious agricultural watersheds.

Armed with a million-plus in wine and tourist industry dollars, the No On C folks have excoriated the provisions of Measure C and its proponents to the point of mass hysteria. This unrelenting attack on Measure C’s common sense-watershed protection has, in my opinion, brought out the darkest of forces in these industries that seek to continue their irresponsible and heretofore unchecked winery developments."


Read the entire letter here: