Groundwater

Recent: The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) meets once a month per their adopted calendar PDF. Videos, agendas, and meeting materials can be found on the GSA’s agendas and minutes web page.

On June 9, 2020, the GSA appointed 25 members to its Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee (GSPAC). The GSPAC was created to advise the GSA Board of Directors on the preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), with policies and recommendations to manage the groundwater within the Napa Valley Groundwater Subbasin to ensure its long-term protection and availability. The GSPAC is tasked to submit a recommended GSP to the GSA Board of Directors for their consideration no later than November 1, 2021. The GSPAC meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 1:30 pm. GSPAC agendas, minutes, and meeting materials are available on their agendas and minutes web page.

Your input is very important and will help improve the various ways groundwater information and education programs are offered to our community. 

To stay informed about GSA meetings and announcements, you can sign-up to be on the Napa County GSA email list.

Background

The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) provides a framework for sustainable management of groundwater resources by local authorities. The act established a timeline of 20 years to implement actions that achieve long-term groundwater sustainability. It protects existing surface water and groundwater rights and does not impact drought response measures. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is in charge of the SGMA Program and has developed guidelines for local agencies to follow.

A Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) was formed for the Napa Valley Subbasin in order to be in compliance with SGMA and DWR regulations, otherwise the Subbasin would be deemed "unmanaged." If a GSA was not formed, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) would be obligated to step in to monitor and manage groundwater users. The SWRCB could require all groundwater users within the Subbasin to install meters, report extractions, and pay fees to cover State costs.

On December 17, 2019, the Napa County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution affirming the County’s intent to manage groundwater in the Napa Valley Subbasin and to form the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Napa Valley Subbasin. The Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGMA) requires governments with high and medium priority basins to bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Under SGMA, these basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their sustainability plans. Napa County has until January 31, 2022 to submit a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the Napa Valley Subbasin.

On January 7, 2020, the Napa County GSA held its first meeting. The agenda for this first meeting was to elect officers, appoint an executive officer, adopt a 2020 meeting calendar, and approve a resolution authorizing the submittal of a $2.6 million dollar grant application (PDF) to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to support the development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Napa Valley Subbasin. On February 6, 2020, the Napa County GSA submitted notification (PDF) to the Department of Water Resources of their intent to prepare a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Napa Valley Subbasin.

Upcoming meetings of the Napa County GSA are shown on the GSA’s 2020 meeting calendar. GSA videos, agendas and meeting materials can be found on the GSA’s agendas and minutes webpage.

The Importance of Groundwater

Groundwater is a vital source of water supply in Napa County. Residents, businesses and agriculturists rely on groundwater, as do fish, wildlife and natural habitats. It is essential to:

  • Preserve the quality and availability of all local and imported water supplies
  • Sustain groundwater supplies to meet future needs and availability during drought conditions
  • Anticipate and avoid potential environmental effects due to the overuse of groundwater
  • Anticipate and take steps to avoid potential losses in long-term groundwater availability and quality.

Everyone in Napa County has a stake in protecting the County’s groundwater resources. Without sustainable groundwater resources, the character of the County would be significantly different in terms of its economy, communities, and ecology.

"Well Owners Guide, A guide for private well owners in Napa County (PDF)” is a new guide intended to make private well ownership a little easier, by alerting well owners of potential sources of contamination and the need for periodic water quality testing, by introducing the basics of proper well construction, destruction and maintenance, and informs well owners of their responsibilities in Napa County.

Annual Monitoring and Reporting

Napa County, in support of the Napa County GSA, regularly monitors groundwater levels. Each year an annual report on groundwater conditions and trends is provided to the public. On June 9, 2020 the GSA heard a presentation and was presented with the 2019 Annual Groundwater Monitoring Report (PDF 31mb), including an Executive Summary and 2-page Report Summary. The 2019 Annual Report summarizes activities implemented to improve the understanding of groundwater resource conditions and actions taken to ensure continued groundwater sustainability in the Napa Valley Subbasin. The 2020 monitoring report is expected to be available in April 2021.

For more information about groundwater in your local area, visit the groundwater information pages on the Watershed Information and Conservation Council (WICC) website

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Groundwater Level Monitoring

Napa County is offering assessments, training and tools to residents to help them monitor the level of groundwater in their well. This program allows residents to learn how water depth in their well changes over the course of the year and helps them to better understand how the groundwater reservoir beneath their land responds to winter recharge and use over the dry months. Measurements are best taken in the spring and fall over multiple years to see trends in recharge. You can learn more about the DIY Groundwater Monitoring Program by viewing this short video and downloading the program flier (PDF).

Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)

Basin Analysis Report for the Napa Valley Groundwater Subbasin

Final documents of the Napa Valley Groundwater Sustainability - Basin Analysis Report for the Napa Valley Subbasin (Alternative GSP) are available below. The Final Alternative GSP was submitted to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on December 16, 2016. Work is underway currently to develop and submit a new Groundwater Sustainability Plan to the Department of Water Resources by January 2021 that will update the Alternative GSP and add additional data and information to meet GSP and SGMA regulations.

On October 11, 2019, Napa County provided a response (PDF) to the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) preliminary evaluation (PDF) of the County’s alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the Napa Valley Subbasin. DWR’s initial recommendation is to not approve the County’s Alternative GSP. Napa County prepared the response (PDF) to address DWR’s questions and other requested clarifications related to the alternative GSP.

DWR notified Napa County on November 13, 2019 that it had completed its review of the County’s Alternative GSP and the County’s responses. While recognizing that Napa County is proactively managing groundwater, DWR nonetheless elected not to approve the County’s Alternative GSP. DWR’s decision was not a judgment on the health or management of the basin, as noted in DWR’s findings. In fact, DWR clarified that its decision was not an indication that the Napa Valley Subbasin is being managed unsustainably, but rather commended the County for proactively managing groundwater.

As a result of DWR’s decision, a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) was required to be formed for the Napa Valley Subbasin in order to be in compliance with SGMA and DWR regulations, otherwise the Subbasin would be deemed "unmanaged." If a GSA is not formed, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) would be obligated to step in to monitor and manage the Subbasin and groundwater users. The SWRCB could require all groundwater users within the Subbasin to install meters, report extractions, and pay fees to cover State costs.

On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, the Napa County Board of Supervisors conducted a public hearing under Water Code section 10723 and adopted a resolution affirming Napa County’s intention to manage groundwater in the Napa Valley Subbasin and to form the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency pursuant to Water Code section 10724, and authorized the submittal of GSA Formation Information to DWR. Water Code section 10724 provides that the County is presumed to be the GSA for the areas in the Subbasin that are "unmanaged" (not within the management a GSA). DWR’s SGMA website portal provides local agencies, GSA’s, and Watermasters the ability to submit, modify, and view the information required by SGMA, and enables the public and interested stakeholders to view submitted information and provide comments, where applicable. No login is required for public access.

The Alternative GSP is available below and a hard-copy of is available at the Napa County Department of Planning, Building and Environmental Services, 1195 Third St., 2nd Floor, Napa, (707) 253-4417.