Monticello Dam at Lake Berryessa, Tuesday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Berryessa water to help bail out Napa cities

By From page A1 | April 11, 2014

VACAVILLE — Solano County is moving ahead with its plan to provide emergency Lake Berryessa water to help Napa County weather the drought.

Lake Berryessa reservoir is located in Napa County, but provides water almost exclusively to Solano County and farms. Napa County cities get no Berryessa water. Despite the three-year drought, the reservoir is more than 70 percent full.

Both Solano and Napa counties get water from the state’s North Bay Aqueduct, which carries water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the state is giving no Delta water allocations this year, with perhaps only carry-over allocations from previous years available. That could hit the Napa County cities of Napa, American Canyon and Calistoga hard.

Members of the Solano County Water Agency board of directors on Thursday agreed to help. They approved principles for an agreement that would allow the Napa County Flood Control & Water District to buy Berryessa water.

The Napa district would be able to buy up to 10,000 acre feet. By comparison, Fairfield uses about 23,000 acre feet of water from all of its sources annually. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California says an acre-foot is enough water to serve two typical families for a year.

Napa would buy the Berryessa water for $600 an acre foot. By comparison, Fairfield pays nothing for Berryessa water because the Solano Project that created Lake Berryessa in the late 1950s has been paid off.

No connection exists to bring Lake Berryessa water to Napa County. The Putah South Canal is a concrete-lined canal that carries Berryessa water and the North Bay Aqueduct is an underground pipe that carries Delta water. The two are separate conveyance systems.

Solano County Water Agency proposes to install a pipe connecting the two systems. This connection would be made in eastern Fairfield in the Cement Hill Road area, near the McCoy basin, agency General Manager David Okita said. The Putah South Canal and North Bay Aqueduct at this point are about 1,700 feet apart, he said.

The pipe would enter the underground North Bay Aqueduct through a manhole. This connection might remain in place only for 2014, then could be disassembled. Okita said the pipe making the connection could be rented.

“I think in theory it would only be used in these very unusual years like this one, that shouldn’t happen very often, maybe once in a generation,” Okita said.

The connection would also help Benicia and Vallejo get more water during peak summer demand periods, an agency report said.

Okita wasn’t certain how much the temporary pipe connection will cost. The users of the emergency Berryessa water will pay for the connection, he said.

Engineering to make the connection between the Putah South Canal and North Bay Aqueduct is relatively simple, Okita wrote to the board. But the necessary agreements and permits involve 13 different agencies, he said. It involves transferring water from a federal project to a state project.

Before the agreement can go forward, it must be approved by the Napa County Flood Control and Water District.

The Solano County Water Agency board of directors consists of the Solano County Board of Supervisors, the mayors from the county’s seven cities, a representatives from Reclamation District 2068, the Maine Prairie Water District and Solano Irrigation District.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 7 comments

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  • Mr.RApril 11, 2014 - 9:31 am

    I believe that Napa county opted out of the forming of the lake.Now they might understand that was a bad decision.

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  • patrickApril 11, 2014 - 11:19 am

    Mr. R that is correct Vacaville also opted out. Vacaville relies mainly on well water. years ago they only had to go down a few hundred feet for it. there is a well pump at Elmira rd and nut tree rd. it's now down ti 1500 feet.

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  • Rick WoodApril 13, 2014 - 11:44 pm

    patrick: I don't believe Vacaville "opted out" of the Solano Project. In any event, it is a member unit today, via the Solano County Water Agency. Vacaville has wells but it also gets water from the Solano Project (Lake Berryessa and the Putah South Canal) and the State Water Project (North Bay Aqueduct).

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  • patrickApril 11, 2014 - 11:26 am

    600$ an acre foot is expensive water. the last time I checked Solano county farmers were paying 3$ an acre foot but are not going to get any water this year.

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  • Rick WoodApril 13, 2014 - 11:51 pm

    patrick: Solano County farmers within Solano Irrigation District, which has a contract for Solano Project water, will be getting their full supply this year. They pay SID more than $3/AF, but it's still inexpensive. It's one reason Solano farmers have a big advantage over farmers elsewhere and a big reason we are seeing some big-name wine grape growing operations moving into Suisun Valley.

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  • BApril 11, 2014 - 10:30 am

    What Berryessa water...?

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  • JOEJuly 21, 2014 - 5:17 pm

    meanwhile S.CAL water supply is in very good condition since they are storing our N.CA water storage,which they use for they're swimming pools and golf courses !

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