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Napa County spending more of COVID stimulus windfall

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Recycled water

Napa Sanitation District can turn wastewater into 3,700 acre feet of recycled water annually that can be used for irrigation.

Napa County has found ways to spend almost all of its $26.7 million federal COVID-19 stimulus windfall, with two recycled water projects among the latest beneficiaries.

Money comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That legislation, passed during the dark days of the pandemic, sent checks to counties and cities, as well as to citizens.

Napa County officials in 2021 vowed to use its one-time bounty to make “transformational” changes.

Spending commitments so far range from stimulating granny flat development to boosting child care to helping turn a motel into housing for the homeless. On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors endorsed adding recycled water improvements to the list.

During a drought, doing more to promote the use of treated, recycled wastewater for irrigation sounded good to supervisors. The water cannot be used for drinking.

The Napa Sanitation District is to receive $1 million to design and do environmental work on a recycled water pump station. The project, which totals $6 million, would help move recycled water to meet peak demand.

NapaSan provides recycled water to the rural Coombsville and Carneros areas, as well other areas in the south county. Water goes to irrigate vineyards, rural properties, several golf courses and landscaping in industrial areas.

“This project would benefit all of NapaSan’s recycled water customers and provide additional drought resilience by increasing the reliability of recycled water delivery,” Andrew Damron of NapaSan wrote to the county.

NapaSan recycles wastewater from the city of Napa and nearby areas at its treatment plant along the Napa River near south county marshes and Napa County Airport.

American Canyon recycles wastewater at a treatment plant within its borders. It pipes water to various city parks and other landscaping areas.

The city is to receive $1.5 million from the county for a $3.5 million effort to add about two miles of lines at various locations, with about half that length in the county’s airport industrial area.

The project could be completed by mid-2023. It would offset 69 acre-feet of drinking water used annually for irrigation, including 37-acre feet by 16 county industrial customers, American Canyon Public Works Director Erica Ahmann Smithies wrote to the county.

An acre-foot is enough water to cover a football field a foot deep. The average California household uses from a half acre-foot to one acre-foot annually, according to the Water Education Foundation.

“I think this is very forward thinking,” American Canyon Mayor Leon Garcia said at the June 21 American Canyon City Council meeting when the council discussed the idea.

Napa County is not quite done spending its $26.7 million American Rescue Plan Act share. About $1 million remains.

Here are some sights along different segments of the Napa Valley Vine Trail.

You can reach Barry Eberling at 707-256-2253 or

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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