Fields of irrigated alfalfa? Don’t be alarmed
Staff, Napa Valley Register, 7/18/15
Motorists traveling on Jameson Canyon/Highway 12 near Highway 29 and North Kelly Road this summer will observe large quantities of water being sprayed onto green fields.
What might be construed as a waste of water in a drought year is actually something far more benign, Napa Sanitation District reports.
The district is spraying treated recycled water that is not suitable for human drinking, the agency said in a news release. The tertiary-treated, disinfected recycled water comes from the district’s wastewater treatment plant south of the Butler Bridge on Highway 29.
The district sells recycled water to several golf courses, a cemetery, a large city park, Napa Valley College, surrounding business parks, construction firms for dust control, and some vineyards, but still has a surplus to dispose of.
During winter and spring, treated water can be discharged into the Napa River, but regulations prohibit that discharge from May through October. The district produces recycled water during this time for its customers, and the surplus is used to irrigate alfalfa or other crops in its fields.
Napa Sanitation contracts with a farmer to plant and harvest the crops, which are typically used as feed for animals.
The district is working to expand and improve its treatment facilities to nearly double the amount of recycled water it can produce by the end of the 2015. To better utilize this natural resource, the district is building 14 miles of recycled water distribution pipelines in partnership with Napa County and the Los Carneros Water District.
Upon completion, the customer base for recycled water will be large enough to greatly reduce the discharge of water on district property. In 2016, most of the treatment plant’s recycled water will be delivered to customers, thus saving many millions of additional gallons of drinking water for residents’ use.
For further information about the district, visit www.NapaSan.com.