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County offered no guarantees to Circle Oaks

County offered no guarantees to Circle Oaks

  • Updated

Regarding Supervisor Diane Dillon’s response to my letter, “Tired of being ignored by Napa County officials” (May 29): I believe her remarks are short-sighted and do not factually comport with the concerns raised in the Writ of Mandate that Circle Oaks’ litigated against Napa County and recently concluded in the Napa County Superior Court.

The mitigations that Supervisor Dillon is referring to are vague and not enforceable, and they are the subject of a pending appeal before the California Court of Appeals.

The extensive monitoring she’s referring to is to be done by Walt Ranch, not by an impartial third party (which Circle Oaks asked for). That is the equivalent of having the fox guarding the henhouse. There will be no one checking to see that the monthly monitoring is being done. The county wouldn’t even put in a baseline level at which pumping would cease should water levels drop.

Circle Oaks will only have the word of Walt Ranch that the water levels are fine. Circle Oaks did not receive any actionable safeguards for their water supply as a result of the county's approval of Walt Ranch. Napa County did not provide the same water protection guarantee for Circle Oaks’ residents that they did provide for neighbors of Circle S on Atlas Peak Road.

Yes, Supervisor Dillon had more than a short sentence response to my question, but the bottom line was that I will have to pay for water to be trucked in if the Circle Oaks County Water District’s wells go dry.

She states that “if necessary to protect the basin, the county can revoke the project permit. The county has all the tools required to prevent the Walt Ranch from having an adverse impact on neighboring wells.” Please show me an example of where the county has ever taken that action.

And tell me, how well has that protection worked out for the neighbors of Carneros Resort and Spa?

So, after all the trees have been cut down and the aquifer drained on Walt Ranch, then Napa County will revoke the project permit? None of that damage could ever be undone.

None of what Supervisor Dillon says is enforceable. And even if it were, Napa County’s Code Enforcement Department is terribly understaffed. They provide no assurance that they will be able to respond in a timely manner to any of Circle Oaks’ concerns should our wells go dry while we await county action, if any.

The key here is that Circle Oaks must first prove that Walt Ranch is the reason our wells went dry before any sort of review/assistance will be undertaken by the county. The onus will be on us, not on Walt Ranch, which is why I don’t trust Napa County to protect my property or water supply.

Lisa Hirayama


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