Rector Reservoir

Rector Reservoir

A reservoir supplying Yountville and the nearby Veterans Home of California may be running low despite the end of a lengthy statewide drought, town officials said Monday, citing an advisory from state water authorities.

An email notice last week from the State Water Resources Control Board cautioned both the town and the state Department of Veterans Affairs, which owns both the Veterans Home west of Yountville and the 4,500-acre-foot Rector Reservoir northeast of town, of potentially low supplies into the summer months, according to Town Manager Steve Rogers.

The extent of the potential shortage was not immediately clear, and Mayor John Dunbar said Yountville is seeking “clarification” about local water supplies from the water board and CalVet.

A reservoir visit Tuesday will garner more information on supplies and include representatives of the state water board, CalVet and the Yountville Public Works Department, Rogers said.

No emergency measures have been announced for Yountville residents or businesses, but Rogers said local steps could include water purchases from other cities, or the return of some conservation orders, if use reductions are needed in the future.

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“This is an advisory and one that’s certainly concerning,” he said Monday afternoon. “The position of the town is we are very concerned, but we want to fully understand what the situation is – and is not – before we put additional measures into place.”

Guy Schott, spokesman for the state water board’s Division of Drinking Water in Northern California, referred questions about Rector Reservoir to the board’s Sacramento headquarters. Messages left there on Presidents’ Day, a state holiday, were not returned.

The state advisory on Yountville-area water reserves comes in the midst of a winter with lower-than-average rainfall, but a year after heavy rains finally broke a drought that had lingered since 2012 and led Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a year of mandatory use cutbacks on cities starting in 2015. Most local water suppliers were required to reduce consumption by at least 20 percent compared to 2013 levels.

Despite the length and severity of the drought, Yountville never received any state warnings about running down the Rector reservoir supply at that time, according to Dunbar. By the end of 2016, Rector was among several Napa Valley water sources – including Lake Hennessey, the main reserve for the city of Napa – that had become full or nearly full after a spate of early-winter storms.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.