Water Audit California wishes to comment on the Brent Randol article in the Napa Register highlighting “salmon making their way up Putah Creek,” which outlined the admirable success from Solano County efforts at reestablishing salmonid populations. A similar project is just about to make its much-needed public launch in Napa County.
Unprecedented has become the word of our times; unprecedented heat, drought, wildfires, winds, storms, and floods, not to mention tornados and hurricanes in other parts of the country and around the world. As these realities confirm the climate crisis, are we in Napa County stepping up to take unprecedented action? Sadly, the answer remains no.
We see every day, with our own eyes, that water is in short supply. Water trucks crisscross the Valley making deliveries to customers with dry wells and empty reservoirs. The mainstem Napa River is more dry than wet above the tidal zone. Parts of it, like St. Helena at the Pope Street Bridge, are choked with algae. While we hope that the fishes found someplace to go, we know many of them did not.
As Napa Valley Subbasin groundwater resources stakeholders, we wish to bring the lack of management effectiveness by the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to your attention. Since the submission of Napa’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in early 2022, signs of groundwater scarcity have been evident and the drought has continued. Yet the Napa Valley Subbasin GSA has shown no indication that they intend to manage groundwater in a way that addresses the unprecedented conditions facing our community.
Thirteen waterways in Napa County once supported Central California Coast Steelhead at population densities of greater than one fish per square meter. Steelhead populations show evidence of decline in all thirteen waterways (Leidy et al 2005). In 1997, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed Central California Coast steelhead as a distinct evolutionary unit that is threatened with extinction.