News About the North Bay Water Reuse Authority

Salt ponds transition to wetlands

Sonoma Index-Tribune, 8/15/13

On Friday, Aug. 30, a gathering of elected officials, federal agencies, partner organizations and grape growers will celebrate the transition of bittern ponds to restored bay lands with the flow of recycled water through a new pipeline to the Napa Sonoma Salt Marsh.

The former Cargill salt pond complex at the north end of San Pablo Bay has the potential to provide diverse wetland habitat, but the area wasn’t able to be fully restored without clean water to eliminate the bittern left over from the salt production process.

The event, hosted by the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District, commemorates 3.4-miles of pipeline that extends an existing recycled-water pipeline. The new pipeline is being constructed to deliver recycled water for salinity reduction and restoration of 640-acres of bittern ponds, part of a larger 10,000-acre restoration project.

“It’s taken 10 years, $10 million, coordination across two counties, easements across private property, and the cooperation of countless organizations to see this pipeline through,” said event keynote speaker Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. “This project is a testament to what is possible through visionary thinking, determination and collaboration. Now that it’s complete, this pipeline will help restore valuable wetlands, provide a reliable water source for our area’s farmers and reduce our region’s water demands.”

Connections for agricultural irrigation along the pipeline route will also provide grape growers in the Carneros Region with a resilient source of clean water for irrigation.

“Farmers throughout California are grappling with the effects of climate change, lack of rain and shrinking groundwater supplies,” said 4th District Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Sustainable and Organic Agriculture. “This shared pipeline crossing Sonoma and Napa counties is a great model for innovative recycled water projects that will help sustain agriculture into the future.”

“The pipeline will allow 1,100- to 1,700-acre-feet of water annually to be delivered from the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District treatment plant to the former salt ponds,” said Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District Director Susan Gorin. “Each acre-foot of water can flood a football field one foot deep –that’s a lot of water being delivered to support our wetlands and farmers, while offsetting demand on groundwater.”

The Aug. 30 event will be held at the Napa Sonoma Marsh near Buchli Station Road and Highway 121 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more information about the event, contact Ann DuBay at 524-8378 or or Brad Sherwood at 547-1927 or

To find out more about the 10,000-acre Napa Sonoma Marsh restoration project, visit

For more information on how recycled water is being reused in the North Bay, visit