By Peter Jensen, Napa Valley Register, 5/27/14
The Napa Sanitation District is getting $1.5 million in federal funding to help expand its recycled water treatment program, as well as to help pay for a recycled water pipeline to the Coombsville area.
It’s the fourth year in a row the sanitation district has received federal funding through a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation program known as Water-SMART, according to a news release announcing the funding.
This year, the district will receive money to help pay for filters, pump stations and construction of the pipeline, which will deliver reclaimed water to irrigators, residents and owners of the Napa Valley Country Club, helping wean them off groundwater usage.
The area drains the Milliken, Sarco and Tulocay creeks, and has been considered a groundwater-deficient area for years. The pipeline is expected to deliver 1,000 acre-feet of recycled water annually to the largest water users in the area, allowing groundwater to replenish.
The federal government has agreed to cover 25 percent of the project’s overall costs, and users of the water have volunteered to pay for the remaining 75 percent. The project has also used money from Napa County’s special tax for flood control, Measure A, in the planning and pre-construction process.
Officials estimate that the pipeline will be built and recycled water will be available by the irrigation season next year, according to the news release.
“It is the 25 percent federal share that made this project attractive to the landowners so that they were willing to put up the additional 75 percent,” Supervisor Keith Caldwell said. “(The MST area) suffers from severe overdraft and we have no idea what this drought is going to do to that … but everyone would agree that it can’t be good. It’s not going to help it recover.”
The federal money also allowed the Napa Sanitation District and the Napa County Public Works Department, which are jointly spearheading the pipeline project, to design a larger-sized project that will deliver more reclaimed water, Napa Sanitation District General Manager Tim Healy said.
“This is another critical step in helping us deliver much-needed water for vineyard and landscape irrigation in the Coombsville/MST area,” Napa Mayor Jill Techel said. “The Bureau of Reclamation’s ongoing support is a key to our efforts. It shows us that a regional approach to our local water problems is working and water reuse can be a key part of the solution to our ongoing water scarcity issues.”
The county government and sanitation district are part of a 10-member collective agency called the North Bay Water Reuse Program, which also includes local governments and sanitation districts from Sonoma and Marin counties.
The reuse program is currently in the process of developing six recycled water projects that will ultimately deliver 3,700 acre-feet of reclaimed water for irrigators in the three-county North Bay region.
Another project, which is spearheaded by the Sonoma County Water Agency but is part of the reuse program, is delivering 1,700 acre-feet of water in the Napa-Sonoma Salt Marsh area, allowing for the restoration of 640 acres of land formerly used in salt production.
“The program’s efforts are paying off and we are seeing the benefits of recycled water as a drought-proof water supply, particularly in the water-scarce regions of the North Bay,” said Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, chair of the reuse program.