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Why treat a water manager so poorly?

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Joy Eldridge is the water manager for the city of Napa, and she is also a member of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee, currently designing a Groundwater Sustainable Plan (GSP) for the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS).

Joy harbors a wealth of experience managing water sources as a Civil Engineer and Business Master and she contributed a very pertinent and concise proposal to the GSPAC on Aug. 31. Her work arrived during a crucial time in the deliberations of the committee as it planned to discuss sustainable indicators that would warn the gsa of impending problems that needed management action to avert undesirable results detrimental to groundwater aquifer: major factors of concern for the health of the aquifer.

Sadly, the committee placed Joy's presentation and discussion as the last subject of the day and was not included in the discussion of these sustainable Indicators. This treatment was the direct opposite of treatment accorded to public comment, which was considered at the start of each meeting. Joy is a member of the committee, and her presentation should have been included in the discussion at that meeting.

This treatment proved to be the beginning of the death knell for her ideas and proposal. When the committee ran out of time, her proposal was not heard and was continued to the next meeting on the next day, Sept. 9.

In the Sept. 9 meeting, Joy's presentation was again scheduled as the last item. And again, time ran out and it was not discussed that day but continued to the meeting of Sept. 27.

Again, on Sept. 27, Joy's presentation was scheduled as the last item on the agenda, where it was squeezed tight and reduced in time, eliminating any substantial committee discussion of the merits of metering water usage could take place. Metering was the main point of her presentation, advising the committee that metering water usage was the best way to confirm volumes and consumption.

An alternative idea to the verification procedures before the committee was at hand. In the discussion on Sept. 8, Joy asked a question about the origins of the water volumes provided by the hydrological engineers from Luhdorff and Scalmanini (LSCE): Where did the figures originate? The answer was 10% metered, 90% estimated.

Joy was offering an alternative of greater accuracy, but the discussion of her presentation was not heard for another two meetings and was cut short as it was placed as the last item of the day.

The public notification of this presentation was also reduced and obscured by the agenda and minutes of the committee. Item 6E, Joy's Presentation, was listed on the agenda for three meetings – Sept. 8, 9, and 27 -- yet the item continuance was never mentioned in the minutes of the earlier meetings, nor was the continuance described in the subsequent 6E Staff Reports concerning the history of Joy's proposal. Her ideas were not given prominence and due respect by the committee.

The history of Joy's presentation was hard for the public to follow, and one would assume, upon reading the agendas and minutes that the presentation occurred on Sept. 8 instead of Sept. 27. Yes, it was on the agenda for three meetings, but none indicated the continuance and notified the public when it actually took place. Adherence to the Brown Act was sketchy at best, and the public very shabbily treated as a result.

I was aghast at the Committee's treatment of the presentation and the necessary pertinent discussion. A water manager of Joy's history and education is valuable, extremely valuable, for the health of the groundwater aquifer. Why did the committee provide such neglect? Was this a subject that they did not want to hear?

Gary Margadant


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