Toxic pollution from vineyard development very near the subdivision of Circle Oaks is a serious concern, given that cancer rates in Napa County are among the highest in the State. See Napa Valley Register article.
- Air quality concerns: Four years of dust and debris from construction activities including blasting, onsite burning of trees and foliage removed for vineyard construction, use of heavy equipment to prepare ground for vineyard planting, and ongoing maintenance operations after vineyards are established.
- The Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion Project has failed to fully evaluate the cumulate impacts of carbon pollution from this project which is two-fold: (1) removal of over 24,000 trees which will not longer be capable of carbon sequestration and (2) burning of the debris caused by the removal of 24,000 trees and less than significant foliage (understory trees and brush of less than 5 dbh). “Deforestation for any reason is absolutely out of alignment with current climate reality”, as the world experienced the highest temperature world-wide ever recorded, which is an indisputable indicator that global warming is happening. See comment letter by Leonore and Jim Wilson, dated November 20, 2014.
Applications of chemical consisting of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides potentially will create toxicity in our water and concerns about the safety of the air we breathe.
- Despite the fact that the owners of the Walt Ranch Vineyard (Craig and Kathryn Hall and/or Hall-Brambletree Associates) rely heavily upon a reputation of eco-friendly farming methods practiced elsewhere in the Napa Valley, they have chosen not to operate this proposed vineyard using organic methods, and will instead manage this vineyard using the “IPM technique” which incorporates the use of pesticides and herbicides to control insects, diseases and weeds. [Reference: FEIR Comments: O21-015, 1073-6, and Section 5.0 of the Final EIR, MMRP Table 5-1].
- The Walt Ranch project poses a direct threat to the quality of the City of Napa’s water supply. This claim is by Napa City Water Manager Joy Eldredge in public comments filed for the Walt Ranch Environmental Impact Report (EIR). See written comments submitted by City of Napa, dated November 21, 2014 and April 4, 2016 in response to the Walt Ranch Project.
- Evidence derived from water testing has established that vineyard hillside development has already degraded the water in Napa’s Hennessey Reservoir. Briefly, Hennessey suffers from excessive algae growth spurred by fertilizer runoff from vineyards. Treating the drinking water for the algae creates trihalomethanes — possible carcinogens — as byproducts. Thousands of Napa residents have gotten notices over the past several months of unsafe levels of these chemicals in their water sourced from Hennessey. And, complaints about water taste and smell have multiplied. To quote Eldredge, “The City has observed that the trend of increasing development of vineyards in the Hennessey Reservoir Watershed correlates with the trend of degrading water quality in Hennessey Reservoir”.
- According to Joy Eldredge, the Milliken Reservoir currently supplies Napa with its highest-quality water. Because the Milliken Reservoir area has not seen the same intensity of vineyard development as the Hennessey area, it has not suffered the same degradation. The Walt Ranch project, which would convert 300 acres of woodland to vineyard, will change all of that.
- Runoff from the proposed Walt Ranch will flow into the Milliken Reservoir. Per Eldredge, the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion Project “will significantly degrade the City’s highest quality source of (water) supply”. Note the City’s comments do not state “might degrade” or “could degrade” but “WILL significantly degrade” the City’s water supply.
- The relationship of the Milliken Reservoir to the Walt Ranch which is connected on the surface by Milliken Creek is demonstrated in this aerial image.
Right, aerial view of Walt Ranch showing Circle Oaks in the lower left, the Milliken Dam at top center, above the Silverado Community, the roads in lower right are on the Walt Ranch. Atlas Peak Road can be seen along with Circle-S Ranch in center right. The ridgeline divides the two watersheds: Capell and Milliken. The wells and reservoirs will be in the Milliken Creek watershed.
- The City of Napa Water Manager (Joy Eldredge) has openly opposed this project citing that once the Walt Ranch Vineyards are developed, the pristine and uncontaminated waters of the Milliken Reservoir (which is the last remaining uncontaminated water supply in the Napa Valley) will be at risk for contamination due to chemical residuals in the surface water run-off from the proposed vineyards. Also at risk is the water supply to the community of Circle Oaks, which relies upon horizontal wells for our water supply during certain times of the year.
- Joy Eldredge states in her April 4, 2016 Memo to Napa County Planning Director Morrison:
“The Final EIR for the Walt Ranch Project indicates that the County is poised to approve yet another vineyard development project—this one encompassing more than 177 acres in the Milliken Reservoir Watershed—whose direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on water quality will significantly degrade the City’s highest-quality source of supply. The County’s approval of the proposed Walt Ranch Project would increase the acreage of new vineyard project development to 545 acres upstream from Milliken Reservoir—approximately 9% of the watershed. The County should prevent shifting of vineyard development impacts onto the City and its public drinking water customers.”
- For air and water quality issues within Circle Oaks, see comment letter by Nancy Tamarisk, Chair, Napa Sierra Club, November 21, 2014, pg. 2.