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City of Calistoga moves to further protect geothermal resources, mud baths

City of Calistoga moves to further protect geothermal resources, mud baths

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Calistoga is located in a geothermal area that essentially underlies the entire city and much of the surrounding area. It is also an important contribution to Calistoga’s economy.

Over the past couple of years, they city has been furthering an effort to protect this unique resource, support its uses, and ensure its longevity. It has also been adopting significant changes to meet federal, state, and regional regulations.

Until now, geothermal governance has been included in the water element of the city’s General Plan. The city’s planning commission is now recommending that the city council rescind the Geothermal Element in the Plan, and adopt an updated infrastructure element.

The city council will be taking additional public comments on the issue at a continuation of public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Geothermal energy is the heat that comes from the rocks and fluids in the sub-surface of the earth. Given its high concentration of volcanic rock, Calistoga’s geothermal resources — which include volcanic ash in mud baths — are a significant contributor to the local economy, supporting its reputation as a spa destination, with the associated hospitality, restaurant and retail sectors, a staff report states.

Councilmember Gary Kraus pointed out at a previous council meeting, the resource “is clearly the reason the city was founded, and differentiates us from the rest of the valley cities. It’s an important part of the character of our community.”

City Planning Director Lynn Goldberg stated at a planning commission meeting Jan. 22, that in the past couple of years the city has taken measures to protect the geothermal element. Those include the requirement of new spas, or spas that are expanding or renovating to install mud separators.

Subsequent to the last adoption of the Geothermal Element in 2003, the city has taken “aggressive measures to reduce the discharge of geothermal water and volancic ash to the city’s storm drain and sewer systems,” the staff report states.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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