Napa Sanitation celebrates $50 million in recycled water projects
Barry Eberling, Napa Valley Register, 5/3/16
Napa Sanitation District has extended its recycled water reach deep into the rural Coombsville and Carneros regions to help slake their summer irrigation thirsts.
“We made an effort to get the water to where it’s most needed,” said Napa Mayor Jill Techel, who is chairwoman of the district board of directors.
On Monday, the district and its partners celebrated the completion of almost $50 million in recycled water projects. A few dozen people gathered at the treatment plant along the Napa River near the county airport for the morning ribbon-cutting event.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, told them the state will be in a drought for some time.
“I think it speaks highly of the folks in Napa County who recognized you have to do something substantial about it, something real about it,” Thompson said.
Napa Sanitation District cleans up sewage from the city of Napa and nearby unincorporated areas at its treatment plant. Last year, it piped 1,811 acre-feet of treated water to irrigate such places as local golf courses, a district-owned pasture and industrial area landscaping. The recycled water is not for drinking.
Now come these latest projects. Combined with past projects, they will allow the district to provide 3,700 acre-feet of recycled water annually for the area, more than twice the amount of unrecycled water held by Napa’s Milliken Reservoir at capacity.
The northernmost recycled water pipe used to end near Napa State Hospital. A new, $16 million, 5-mile extension passes by the vineyards and rural homes of Coombsville, where the Milliken-Sarco-Tulocay aquifer has long had falling groundwater levels.
County Supervisor Keith Caldwell said the county several years ago looked at how to solve a groundwater overdraft of 1,000 acre-feet to 2,000 acre-feet annually. The new pipeline will transport 700 acre-feet of water initially and is sized to someday increase the amount to 2,000 acre-feet, he said.
About 50 properties can connect to the pipeline. The first burst of recycled water traveled through the entire length of pipe in December 2015 to start filling a water hazard at the rural Napa Valley Country Club.
“Reasonably priced, drought-resistant irrigation water,” Caldwell called it.
Another new pipe crosses under the Napa River to the west of the treatment plant. This $18 million project extends for 9 miles into the Carneros area, with its vineyards and wineries on rolling hills that peter into San Pablo Bay. About 100 properties can connect to the line.
“Pretty much all the surface water and groundwater are spoken for,” Los Carneros Water District Board President John Stewart said.
The idea to bring recycled water to the Carneros area dates back to the 1970s. Stewart called it a multigenerational project.
An additional $15 million project ensures that the treatment plant can provide enough recycled water. Work included adding a sand filter and building an equalization water storage basin.
Money for the $50 million in projects came from recycled-water user fees and assessments and state and federal grants.
Steven Moore of the State Water Resources Control Board called recycled water a “water supply untapped in our midst.” The hard part is distributing this water, he said.