News About the North Bay Water Reuse Authority

Straw poll may decide Coombsville pipeline

Peter Jensen, Napa Valley Register, 8/1/12

Napa County officials are awaiting the results of an informal straw poll aimed at gauging the interest residents and businesses have in forming an assessment district to pay for a recycled water pipeline in Coombsville.

County Deputy Public Works Director Phil Miller said the results are expected by Aug. 6, and should give the county a good idea of whether or not the pipeline project should be put to an assessment vote.

The pipeline, if constructed, would provide up to 1,000 acre-feet of recycled water annually from the Napa Sanitation District to the groundwater-reliant Coombsville area where the water table is dropping.

Individual assessment estimates were provided to representatives of large vineyards and Napa Valley County Club at a meeting in July, Miller said. Property owners were asked to comment on their likely participation by Aug. 6.

At an estimated cost of $13 million, the project would extend a pipeline from Imola Avenue through the heart of Coombsville to Hagen Road. The pipeline would serve customers, both residential and commercial, in the area. They would be charged based on average use.

The money would be secured through a state loan program, and would be repaid over 20 to 25 years through the formation of the assessment district, Miller said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has provided a $2 million grant toward the project’s construction, which will help defray the cost, Miller said. With the grant factored into the cost estimate, he said early indications are showing support for the project.

“So far, we are feeling good about it,” Miller said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

If the straw poll is favorable, an assessment vote could be held this fall, Miller said.

According to county Supervisor Keith Caldwell, there is urgency in deciding whether to move the project forward because the Sanitation District has been flooded with requests to sell its limited amount of recycled water.

Coombsville has reserved 1,000 acre-feet, but could lose it if the pipeline’s construction is delayed too long.

While the county awaits the results of the straw poll, Miller said work continues to complete an extension of the pipeline from Napa State Hospital to Skyline Park on East Imola Avenue.

The extension is being paid for with $390,000 in federal economic stimulus funds, and additional funds from the Sanitation District and the Napa County.

The Imola pipeline extension is almost complete, with only a creek crossing left to finish, Miller said, but what happens after that remains to be seen.

To get the water into Coombsville, a pump station will have to be constructed. Caldwell has advocated putting it in Skyline Park, to the consternation of some neighbors.

The plans for the pump station were based on the county likely acquiring Skyline Park from the state. The county and the state have hit an impasse in the negotiations over the transfer.

It’s unknown whether the state maintaining ownership of Skyline Park will affect plans for the pump station, Miller said.