FUNDS NOT AVAILABLE FOR LARGER, 2,000 ACRE-FOOT PROJECT
By PETER JENSEN, Napa Valley Register, 11/28/13
A recycled water project in the Coombsville area has enough money to build a pipeline to carry 1,000 acre-feet of water to the groundwater-reliant region, but a larger pipeline is unaffordable.
Napa County Deputy Public Works Director Phil Miller gave that update to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, and said the project’s construction bids will be opened Dec. 10.
Public Works will return to the board the following week to make the final determination on project size. The 1,000 acre-foot option is estimated to cost $13.8 million, while a 2,000 acre-foot project could cost $17 million.
There’s no guarantee the project will be built, however, as that will be contingent on the bid results, Miller said. But based on the money the county has tallied from property owners willing to pay for it, plus the federal government pledging to cover 25 percent of the total cost, Miller said it appears the smaller project is affordable.
The county set up a community facilities district of property owners willing to pay a property tax assessment in exchange for hooking up to the recycled water supply from Napa Sanitation District. The district is strictly voluntary at this point, and property owners willing to join can still sign up, Miller said.
Howard Siegel, a consultant working on the project, said property owners can join later — after the pipeline’s built — but the property tax assessment is being financed through a 20-year loan from a state government fund. Joining three years later gives a property owner 17 years to repay the loan, making the annual payments greater, he said.
Miller said the interest rate on that loan recently jumped to 2.1 percent, instead of the original 1.9 percent, but he expressed hope that the state could begin offering 30-year terms, which could be an incentive to get more people to join the financing district.
Supervisor Keith Caldwell, a longtime advocate for the pipeline, said it’s needed to reduce stress on groundwater supplies in the area, which drains Milliken, Sarco and Tulocay creeks. The recycled water would supplant ground water usage by irrigators and major water users.
With the dry year Napa County and California have seen in 2013, Caldwell said it could be a motivation for owners to buy in to the pipeline.
“If we continue on with the rainfall this year, I would not be surprised to see some additional failures of wells in the MST,” Caldwell said. “There’s still time to buy in.”
The Napa Sanitation District authorized sending the project out to bid in November, and depending on the results it could award the contract in the spring, Miller said. A pump station planned to be built on Napa State Hospital’s grounds would be sent out for bids separately in February or March of 2014, he said.
The tentative date for construction to be completed is in the fall of 2015, Miller said.