Landowners green light Coombsville pipeline

2012-12-04T17:23:00Z 2012-12-04T18:28:53Z Landowners green light Coombsville pipelinePETER JENSEN Napa Valley Register
December 04, 2012 5:23 pm  • 

A proposed recycled water pipeline in the Coombsville area cleared another hurdle Tuesday, as it secured a unanimous vote from some property owners willing to pay for the project.

By a vote of 422-0, the owners approved forming a community services district that will allow Napa County to pursue funding for the 4.5-mile-long pipeline, which would run from Napa State Hospital through the heart of Coombsville, and potentially deliver 1,000 to 2,000 acre-feet of recycled water to the groundwater-reliant area.

With the vote, county officials will be able to apply for a loan, likely from the state government, that would pay for the pipeline’s construction; the customers of the pipeline would pay this money back over 20 years.

Five property owners voted on forming the district on Tuesday, and their ballots were weighted by the acreage they represent, said Phil Miller, a deputy director in the county Public Works Department. The Napa Valley Country Club, which will be one of the largest users of the pipeline, accounted for hundreds of ballots, he said.

The vote Tuesday allows the district to be formed, and Miller said he expects more property owners to be annexed into it early next year. He said about 30 owners have expressed interest, and once they’re annexed in they’ll also contribute their share to paying off the loan.

Only the potential users of the pipeline will have to pay off the loan, and will do so through annual property tax assessments.

Construction cost estimates range between $12.3 million and $16.3 million, depending on the size of the pipeline. The county has a $1.9 million federal grant to help pay for the project, and is seeking more federal funding.

The county still must decide how large the pipeline should be — whether to build the 2,000 acre-foot pipeline for $16.3 million, or the 1,000 acre-foot pipeline for $12.3 million. The current number of customers doesn’t cover the costs for the larger size, but that could change if more customers come on board, or the county gets more federal funding.

It also must choose a site for the pipeline’s pump station. Original plans for placing the pump station in the northwest corner of Skyline Park have been scrapped due to an impasse in negotiations between the county and the state government to have the county purchase the park.

Supervisor Keith Caldwell said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the preference is to locate the pump station on Napa State Hospital’s grounds, and the county is negotiating with hospital officials and the state government to accomplish that.

Kathy Felch, a Penny Lane resident and vocal critic of the pipeline project, said residents are objecting to an alternate site, which is on a piece of private property farther east of the state hospital grounds.

Felch said 66 residents have signed a petition opposing that private site, and distributed the petition to the supervisors.

“What we want to hear is that it will not be the location of the pumphouse,” Felch said.

Caldwell said he couldn’t provide that assurance yet, but emphasized that the county’s preference would be to put the pump station at the state hospital. He called the private property farther east a last resort.

“That is the least desirable site,” Caldwell said. “That would be the last site we would look at.”

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