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Napa County News

Posted on: May 30, 2023

State of Local Emergency expires due to drought conditions

NAPA, CA – On May 30, the Napa County Board of Supervisors voted to end the State of Local Emergency due to drought conditions in Napa County, thus terminating the emergency powers of county officials set forth in Resolution No. 2022-29. 

The Board proclaimed a State of Local Emergency on March 8, 2022, following Proclamation of a State of Emergency by the Governor on May 10, 2021, and worsening drought conditions in winter 2021-2022. Government Code section 8630(c) requires local agencies to revisit local emergency proclamations at least once every 60 days until the local emergency is terminated. 

Although the State of Local Emergency has ended, the county is still responsible for implementing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The reduced water criterion [0.3 acre-feet per acre for new wells in the Napa Valley Subbasin (one acre-foot equals 326,000 gallons)] was adopted June 7, 2022, during the State of Local Emergency. The criterion was put in place to ensure that future development does not further diminish groundwater supplies in the Subbasin. 

Since October 1, 2022, Napa has received nearly 32 inches of rain, exceeding average annual rainfall. Despite a particularly wet winter, eight of the past 10 years have been characterized as dry to very dry conditions. While the wetter winter of 2022-2023 has achieved a notable recovery in groundwater levels since 2022, overall resilience and sustainability of Napa County’s groundwater resources remain a top priority. The cumulative impact of these recent hotter, drier years has resulted in increased groundwater pumping to compensate for increased temperatures, reduced surface water supplies, and the resulting increased evaporative demand of plants and crops. While groundwater conditions have improved, groundwater level projections for fall of 2023 drop below the established Minimum Threshold values that could negatively impact sustainability for the Subbasin, which is why the county is committed to long-term groundwater sustainability for the public good. 

The Governor’s Office continues to emphasize this message, stating “next winter's hydrology is uncertain and the most efficient way to preserve the State's improved surface water supplies is for Californians to continue their ongoing efforts to make conservation a way of life” (EO N-5-23). On March 28, 2023, a presentation to the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency on the Water Year 2022 Annual Report concluded with the recommendation that “conservation be a Napa way of life.” 

For questions, please contact Napa County Natural Resources Conservation Manager Jamison Crosby at [email protected].

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