Site News

A simple vineyard strategy cuts water usage by one-third

Aug 30, 2023 at 10:55am

Kathleen Willcox, The Drink Business

The increasingly unpredictable climate is making growing grapes an increasingly risky and costly business. France recently lost an estimated $2 billion in wine sales after extreme weather decimated the harvest. In 2022, California farmers lost an estimated $1.7 billion to the drought alone, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California.

And despite California’s abnormally wet winter in 2023, which helped replenish reservoirs and groundwater aquifers, experts warn that the wet weather won’t make up for decades of diminished rain and extended periods of drought.

America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow

Aug 29, 2023 at 12:05pm

Mira Rojanasakul, Christopher Flavelle, Blacki Migliozzi and Eli Murray; New York Times

GLOBAL WARMING HAS FOCUSED concern on land and sky as soaring temperatures intensify hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. But another climate crisis is unfolding, underfoot and out of view.

Many of the aquifers that supply 90 percent of the nation’s water systems, and which have transformed vast stretches of America into some of the world’s most bountiful farmland, are being severely depleted. These declines are threatening irreversible harm to the American economy and society as a whole.

Letter: New groundwater monitoring wells installed in Napa County

Aug 21, 2023 at 6:00am

Qicheng Tang, UC Cooperative Extension

While some residents may question if there are too many wells in Napa County, others ask if there are enough. And as of June, there are eight more. Specifically, eight monitoring wells were installed by the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (NCGSA).

So, why do we need more wells?

To gather information on the condition of the groundwater resources stored in the soil and rock underlying the Napa Valley. By measuring the depth to groundwater, county staff gather a critical piece of information to follow trends and track whether the amount of stored water is increasing, holding steady, or on the decline.

Napa County supervisors take on groundwater issues

Aug 25, 2023 at 8:30am

Barry Eberling, Napa Valley Register

Napa County supervisors are immersing themselves in groundwater issues that have implications for both Napa Valley vineyards and the Napa River.

The topic is the Napa Valley subbasin that holds groundwater beneath the valley floor from north of Calistoga to south of the city of Napa. Groundwater irrigates world-famous vineyards. It also feeds streams and the Napa River during hot summer months.

New state program aims to help residents before wells go dry in California’s next, inevitable, drought

Aug 7, 2023 at 1:00pm

Jesse Vad, SJV Water

After two multi-year episodes of intense drought over the past decade, there is finally a centralized hub of resources and information for well owners and communities that suffered when their wells went dry. 

Before the most recent drought lifted thanks to this year’s historic winter, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) launched its Be Well Prepared program in May. 

The program came out of a realization that even after three years of drought, well owners and many communities still didn’t know where to turn for assistance, said Mary Fahey, public information officer with DWR. 

After helping prevent extinctions for 50 years, the Endangered Species Act itself may be in peril

Aug 8, 2023 at 1:30pm

John Flesher, Associated Press

Biologist Ashley Wilson carefully disentangled a bat from netting above a tree-lined river and examined the wriggling, furry mammal in her headlamp’s glow. “Another big brown,” she said with a sigh.

It was a common type, one of many Wilson and colleagues had snagged on summer nights in the southern Michigan countryside. They were looking for increasingly scarce Indiana and northern long-eared bats, which historically migrated there for birthing season, sheltering behind peeling bark of dead trees.

SCOTUS WOTUS decision continues to reverberate

Aug 7, 2023 at 1:35pm

Forrest Laws, Farm Progress

The Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling for the plaintiffs in the Sackett vs. EPA case might seem to be the final word in the lengthy and, oftentimes, politically charged debate over what’s included in the term “Waters of the United States.”

While farmers and landowners may have hoped the Court’s May 25 decision would bring an end to the uncertainty over what is included in the definition of navigable waters, those expectations may prove to be a bit rosy.

Napa Valley’s Rutherford Ranch winery growth approvals appealed

Aug 4, 2023 at 1:10pm

Barry Eberling, Napa Register

Rutherford Ranch winery's bid to have more visitors and employees will have a sequel, with water at the heart of the matter.

The Napa County Planning Commission on June 21 approved the winery's growth requests. Water Audit California has appealed the decision to the county Board of Supervisors.

Opposition to the approval focuses on Conn Creek, which Water Audit California said is home to federally protected steelhead trout. The group alleged the county has done too little to ensure Rutherford Ranch groundwater pumping doesn't sap water from the creek.

Sonoma, Mendocino county grape growers battling new rules designed to reduce sediment, pesticides in local waterways

Aug 2, 2023 at 6:00pm

Mary Callahan, Press Democrat

A new program targeting 1,500 commercial grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties and designed to improve water quality in local creeks and rivers is drawing criticism from members of the agricultural community.

The draft rules include reporting requirements, annual fees, well and groundwater monitoring, ground cover requirements and restrictions on wintertime operations that growers deem excessive.

Don’t call it ‘toilet to tap’ — California plans to turn sewage into drinking water

Aug 1, 2023 at 1:30pm

Rachel Becker, CalMatters

Waste would undergo extensive treatment and testing before it’s piped directly to taps, providing a new, costly but renewable water supply. The state’s new draft rules are more than a decade in the making.

When will California experience another drought? Experts aren’t entirely sure

Jul 16, 2023 at 10:00am

Iman Palm - KTLA

Most of California is in recovery mode after a years-long drought plagued the Golden State from 2020 until 2022, which depleted the state’s reservoirs and groundwater resources.

Thanks to the historic wet winter season, many areas, such as Los Angeles, Merced and Alameda countries, are no longer in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The nation’s largest dam removal project begins in California, but new concerns arise

Jul 11, 2023 at 7:50pm

Kurtis Alexander - San Francisco Chronicle

A few miles south of the California-Oregon border, up a remote canyon on the Klamath River, the hum of heavy machinery marks the start of the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.