News About the North Bay Water Reuse Authority

Coombsville pipeline in search of more money

PETER JENSEN, Napa Valley, 9/9/12

After polling the interest of Coombsville residents and businesses in paying for a recycled water pipeline, Napa County has determined that their contributions won’t quite cover the estimated $13 million it will cost to build it.

The county’s next steps will be to try to push the costs down by pursuing a $2 million federal grant, and taking the issue to the Napa County Board of Supervisors Oct. 23 for a decision on whether to move forward with a vote on forming an assessment district to pay for the project, County Deputy Public Works Director Phil Miller said Friday.

The pipeline, if constructed, would provide up to 1,000 acre-feet of recycled water to the groundwater-reliant Coombsville area. The water would come from the Napa Sanitation District treatment plant south of Napa. Users would be charged an annual, per-acre assessment to repay the costs of building the pipeline.

The project received a $1.9 million Bureau of Reclamation grant this spring, and is still eligible for $2 million in federal funding, Miller said. The county will put in a grant application for that money to the North Bay Water Reuse Authority this fall, with a decision due next spring, he said.

“We’re a little short on the 13,” Miller said. “If we get the $2 million grant, the 13 becomes 11 and then we’re in good shape.”

Miller said staff will be presenting information about how to pay for the project to the board on Oct. 23. Staff will also have a recommendation on whether to move forward with forming the assessment district, even if the expected revenue is slightly short of the estimated cost.

“We’ll be set up to form the assessment district if that’s what the Board of Supervisors wants to do,” Miller said.

Supervisor Keith Caldwell said the project has been receiving funding from the Measure A half-cent sales tax for flood control, but likely won’t get additional money to cover the anticipated shortfall.

“I’ve been told the checkbook is closed,” Caldwell said.

The funding picture could change, depending on if more potential property owners show interest, Miller said. Several people have received poll forms but haven’t responded.

“We didn’t hear ‘no’ from them, but we didn’t hear ‘yes’, either,” Miller said.

The cost estimates could also change, given that the project hasn’t been put out to bid yet, Miller said. That makes getting every extra dollar possible that much more important, he said.

Caldwell said the county has been looking at the prospect of bringing in customers who aren’t on the main line of the pipeline, which would extend from Imola Avenue north through the heart of Coombsville before ending at Hagen Road. It would serve residential and commercial users in the area.

But doing so would mean constructing additional infrastructure to connect those users to the main pipeline, and the assessment district would have to be devised so they pay a fair share of the main pipeline along with their connections, Caldwell said.

An option would be to split the assessment district into zones, where the additional costs would be broken out proportionately, he said.

“The intent is to get as many people involved as possible,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said his goal was to have the assessment vote this year, even with the $2 million in federal funding uncertain. He said he’ll travel to Washington, D.C., this fall to lobby for that money.

“We’re still eligible for quite a bit more,” he said.