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Napa City Council to consider additional water restrictions

Lawn watering restrictions in Napa

The Napa City Council is set to vote on limiting irrigation to two days per week to preserve water in Lake Hennessey.

As California’s 2021 drought intensifies and water conservation concerns worsen, the Napa City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday to limit most outdoor irrigation to two days a week and restrict the trucking of water out of the city.

The meeting will also be the first public city meeting since March 2020 to allow in-person attendance in the council chambers. All in-person attendees are required to wear a face mask. The water use reduction item is scheduled for the council’s afternoon session, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

The purpose of the water use reduction action, according to agenda documents, is to cut community water use by 20% this year when compared to 2020. Doing so will preserve water in Lake Hennessey, Napa’s primary local source of water, which has received historically low runoff the past two winters.

The council voted unanimously in May  to declare a “moderate water shortage” and return to special drought restrictions, which the city hoped would cut down 15% of summer water usage when compared to last year. Under those voluntary restrictions, Napans aren’t allowed to irrigate greenery on consecutive days or during the main daylight hours that fall between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., among other curtailments.

Under the new proposal, outdoor irrigation would be banned on all but two days each week, with a few exceptions. Drip and micro-irrigation systems would still be allowed to operate on all days, and residents would still be able to hand water with either a container or a hose fitted with an attached shutoff nozzle. Limited use of irrigation systems for testing, maintenance or repair would also be allowed, according to the agenda documents.  

But general use of conventional irrigation systems would still be banned five days a week. For properties with street addresses ending in an even number, outdoor irrigation would only be allowed on Mondays and Thursdays. And, similarly, for properties with addresses ending in an odd number, outdoor irrigation would be only permitted on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The new restrictions would be mandatory and violations would follow the city’s code enforcement process, deputy utilities director Joy Eldredge said. The proposed restrictions come as the result of the city seeing an increase in water usage compared to the past year.

“There’s likely three solid irrigation months left, September, August and October,” Eldredge said. “We can make a difference over these last few months and save some of the water in Lake Hennessey. We’ve got to do what we can right now.”

If the proposal is approved, Eldredge said, the city will be sending out mailer notifications and allowing people the weekend to make changes. By August, city staff will start patrolling Napa streets to check for compliance, and by mid-August enforcement actions — a notice of violation, then citations starting at $100 and going up $100 each visit, to a maximum of $500 — may be carried out, according to Eldredge.

“I believe most people will be doing the right thing; we just need to work on getting that message out there,” Eldredge said.

The City Council is also set to consider limiting the amount of water trucked out of the city out into rural Napa County. Those proposed restrictions would limit water trucked from city hydrants to 4,000 gallons per month for indoor residential use. Water could still be trucked to construction sites, but only for properties that are, or will be, served by the city’s water system.  

Infrastructure funding

During the evening session, the Napa City Council is set to vote on a plan that would bring funding to city infrastructure projects by capturing property taxes from the city’s future growth.

The council is considering a plan to put a Napa Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District into the city, which would finance public facilities and projects of significance to the community using property taxes from the city’s future growth.

The council is also scheduled to vote on establishing a board known as a public financing authority to govern the EIFD. And the council is set to appoint two residents to the authority board — council members Mary Luros, Bernie Narvaez and Beth Painter were chosen to represent the council on the board at a meeting in April.

Once established, portions of Napa’s property tax revenue generated by new development would move into the EIFD. Then those funds could be channeled into public interest and infrastructure upgrades — streets, parks, landscaping, flood control and storm drainage, parking facilities, city building construction or rehabilitation, and much more, according to the agenda documents.

The proposed EFID map is split into seven portions across the city, covering much of central Napa and several less developed areas on the city’s outskirts

The district could raise about $13.1 million over 50 years, according to officials in a previous Napa Valley Register report. And, if the financing district is formed, the city could draft a plan on what to fund, according to a city presentation. Public hearings around the proposed plan would then occur, and the City Council would carry out an official vote to finalize that spending.

Take a look at the progress of townhomes (and commercial space) under construction in downtown Napa. Known as Register Square, the units start in the high $700,000 price range.

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You can reach Edward Booth at (707) 256-2213.

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