Why do I strongly support Measure C?
Reason 1: Measure C protects our water quantity and quality and is good for agriculture.
I believe our vineyard/wine/tourism economy makes our Valley a desirable place to live. Our county is not wall-to-wall homes/shopping centers/office complexes/industrial sites and for that I am grateful. But in order to maintain what we have, we need to think about our future. How sustainable is this interdependent economy if we predicate our thinking on an unlimited water future?
Our watershed is comprised of the hills that surround our valley. Water from the hillsides fills our reservoirs and recharges the groundwater beneath our valley floor. We use this water in our homes, our offices, our commercial businesses, our wineries, and in our vineyards.
But as we expand vineyards into our watershed, less water reaches our reservoirs and recharges our groundwater. Groundwater levels drop. Reservoir levels drop. Vineyard expansion in the hills equals less water for existing uses. Given the current climate predictions, this is not a road we should travel down.
A 2017 study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory predicts California rainfall could diminish by as much as 15 percent within 20-30 years. With predictions that significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts could hit our state, we need to tread carefully when deciding the fate of our watershed.
With less water coming down from the sky in the future, we need to guard what we have to maintain our valley as it is.
Besides less rainfall, climate change can mean more intense storms when rainfall does occur. Currently erosion control measures for new hillside vineyards in reservoir watersheds are based on 100-year storm events. But as we have seen nationwide, rain events of much greater magnitude are becoming more frequent in the new climate order. This raises the question, in our future, will even more silt and impurities reach our water supplies due to erosion control failure?
I mention this because water quantity isn’t the only issue - water quality is also of great concern. When pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and silt enter our waterways from hillside vineyards, our cities’ water treatment facilities must make this water safe to drink. This requires money, our money, money that is not reimbursed to us by vineyard owners. If vineyard expansion in the hillsides continues, the problems of water quality will be exacerbated.
Reason 2: Measure C protects the biodiversity of our hillsides, streams and river.
“If current trends continue, by the year 2050 the Americas will have 15 percent fewer plants and animals than now. That means there will be 40 percent fewer plants and animals in the Americas than in the early 1700s,” states the AP article “UN sees a lonelier planet with fewer plants, animals.” In the article, Jake Rice, Canada’s chief government scientist for fisheries and oceans, makes a profound statement “We keep making choices to borrow from the future to live well today.”
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Jake, I couldn’t agree more. Removing mature oak trees and vegetation followed by the blasting and deep ripping of soil does affect the intricately woven diversity of life in our hillsides and it does divert water from hillside streams, aquifers, and the river affecting life all along the water’s path. We need to walk the walk. If not, our shortsightedness will make for a lonelier, less functional, and perhaps less habitable planet.
Reason 3: Measure C preserves the natural beauty of our oak woodlands.
The beauty is preserved for all to enjoy.
How does Measure C achieve all of the above?
By preserving our oak woodlands and watershed through limiting the expansion of vineyards in our hillsides. By strengthening stream and wetland setbacks. By requiring a 3-1 replacement for every mature oak tree removed, increased from the county’s current 2 -1 ratio. Measure C stops unsustainable, unhindered expansion of agriculture/vineyards in our hillside watershed.
Measure C does not apply to trees burned by wildfire, trees threatening public safety, trees threatening structures, and other reasonable scenarios. It does not affect replanting of existing vineyards in the same footprint.
Measure C is a well-written initiative, based on the best current science, and drafted by the same attorneys who drafted Measures J and P. Just as Measures J and P are easy to interpret and enforce, Measure C will be likewise.
I hope you will join me in voting Yes on Measure C so that together we can lead the way to a more stable, secure, and clean water future for all of us with the added benefit of protecting biodiversity and the beauty of oak woodlands.