Why is the Napa River so dry, panel asks?

Napa Valley Register

Napa River is bone-dry in stretches and some have voiced the controversial claim that groundwater pumping amid a deep, two-year drought is partly to blame.

That’s the backdrop against which Napa County is crafting a state-required Napa Valley groundwater plan. Twenty-five people from the wine industry, environmental community and other sectors are on an advisory committee working on the first draft.

One thorny issue is determining if and when too much groundwater pumping for agriculture dries up the river and streams. That conversation comes at a time when dry waterways have the environmental community worried about fish and wildlife.

The county Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee secured the needed two-thirds vote last week to make recommendations on streamflow depletion. It took three meetings and several hours of discussion to do so, with plenty of disagreements.