Support for Recycled Water Being Tested
PETER JENSEN, Napa Valley Register, 8/11/12
Results from an informal poll gauging the interest in constructing a recycled water pipeline in Coombsville are showing an initial basis of support for the project, Napa County officials say.
To get a fuller sample of residential and commercial property owners, the county is extending the deadline for the submission of poll forms, County Deputy Director of Public Works Phil Miller said.
This will delay when a vote could take place on forming an assessment district. The district would charge users an annual, per-acre assessment to repay the costs of constructing the pipeline, which are estimated at $13 million.
Officials had hoped to hold the vote in September, but that will likely be delayed until October, Miller said. He said the feedback is about “80 to 90 percent” of where the county would like it to be in order to have enough users willing to pay into the system.
“We’re really close,” Miller said. “People responded positively.”
County Supervisor Keith Caldwell said the county has applied to a state loan program to finance the project, and is waiting for final approval of it.
The pipeline, if built, would offer up to 1,000 acre-feet of recycled water from the Napa Sanitation District treatment plant south of Napa to Coombsville, where the water table is dropping because of heavy pumping.
The pipeline would extend from Imola Avenue through the heart of Coombsville out to Hagen Road, serving both residential and commercial users in that area.
If the assessment vote passes, a major question the county will have to face is where to place a pump station needed to deliver the water from Imola Avenue to the rest of the area.
During negotiations with state government to purchase Skyline Park, the county initially planned to place the pump station in the northwest corner of the park, just south of Imola. The county still might, and has a consultant completing environmental analysis of two sites — one at Skyline, and another farther down Imola on the Napa State Hospital grounds.
But the negotiations to have the county buy Skyline Park from the state have reached an impasse, meaning the county will have to go through a new round of talks to acquire land for the pump station, Caldwell said.
“I believe we can work with the state of California to make that happen,” Caldwell said.
Even with the pump station issue outstanding, construction of the pipeline can begin next summer if the assessment district is formed, Caldwell said. The county’s received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to help defray the cost of the project.
Penny Lane resident Kathy Felch, an outspoken critic of the project, said neighbors in Coombsville have not been kept informed of the recent progress on the pipeline.
“Nobody’s talked to us,” said Felch, whose house sits across the street from where the pump station could potentially be sited.
Felch accused the county of “secret government” in conducting the informal poll among potential users of the pipeline.
“What is all this secrecy about?” Felch asked. “Those are my sentiments and the sentiments of many. I think it’s a travesty of our form of government.”
Caldwell responded to Felch’s criticism by saying that there have been public meetings in Coombsville over the past several years.
“I can’t even remember how many public meetings there have been,” Caldwell said. “I’ve been on the (Board of Supervisors) almost four years, and I know there were public meetings before that.”