The 1973 Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) mandated that all water bodies in the United States be analyzed for three basic types of pollutants, which are 1) nutrients 2) pathogens and 3) sediments. Any river even remotely close to an urban area has been or will be listed on the federally mandated 303(d) listing for exceeding the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The water bodies have to be analyzed for pollutants and then an upper level threshold is established. If a specific pollutant exceeds that threshold then that water body must be listed on the TMDL list. Getting off the list takes years and should be a cause for celebration.
In severely polluted water bodies actual chemicals and pesticides are singled out such as Diazinon, Mercury, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Manganese, PCBs, Chlordane, DDT, Selenium, Pyrethroids, pH of the water, Furan compounds and Polycyclic Hydrocarbons. There is no such spotlighting for the non-tidal Napa River and the tidal Napa River sections.
Is the Napa River a cesspool of pesticides and chemicals as many of the Yes on Measure C supporters claim or is it in the cleanest condition of the last 75 years and getting cleaner every year? Where does the truth lie? The answer, like the 1950 Japanese movie Rashomon, depends on whom you speak with. In Rashomon a Samurai is murdered and all five witnesses and participants, including the dead Samurai, tell completely different stories. Sounds like just another day in Napa Valley to me!
Chris Malan in her April 23, 2018 Napa Valley Register letter says that the Napa River is “listed by the EPA for Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin, PCBs and Mercury.” For the last “one mile” of the Napa River in the section called the “Mare Island Strait” she’s correct. Not so surprisingly through, Chris left out the important parts about the Napa River being broken into three segments by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFBRQCB) for better assessment. The “non-tidal Napa River” is from the headwaters to just north of Lincoln Avenue. Then from Lincoln bridge south to just before Mare Island is the “tidal Napa River” and for the last mile before entering into the Carquinez Straits it’s called the “Mare Island Straits.”
Additionally, I have found no evidence supporting the many claims made by the Pro Measure C supporters that the non-tidal Napa River and tidal Napa River are polluted with any identifiable pesticides or pollutants. Mercury is specifically mentioned as a “Do not list on 303(d) (TMDL required list)” for the non-tidal Napa River and is mentioned as a “legacy pollutant” for the tidal Napa River.
From the Regional Water Board, Water Quality Report Card (highlighted as #6): “…The primary sources of pathogens identified in the TMDL included septic systems, municipal storm water runoff, sewer discharge, grazing, and Confined Animal Facilities (CAFs)…”
Can’t blame the vineyards and wineries for the Pollutant – Pathogens. Looks like Pogo is right again when he said “we have met the enemy and it is us.”
I have provided links to 7 documents in this section from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFBRWQCB). Additionally, I have provided on page right, with the main menu under Groundwater Sustainability Report, both the main report of 632 pages and the 44-page Powerpoint presentation.
1 ) From the EPA, dated December 2015:
“NONPOINT SOURCE SUCCESSS STORY, Implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices Reduces Nutrients in 36 miles of the Napa River.”
Quoting from the text: “Due to these efforts, nutrient levels have decreased, and the non-tidal portion (36 miles) of the River has been recommended for removal from the CWA (Clean Water Act) Section 303(d) list for nutrient impairment.”
2) This is a short document that helps explain what Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) means.
3) “San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Staff Report dated April 2017.” Here is the latest document that updates the current status on the TMDLs. On page ii there are 10 appendices that link through to all sorts of information. You can get lost for hours in these sections that lead on to other sections.
4) The February 12, 2014 “Napa River and Sonoma Creek Non-tidal portions: Delist for Nutrients from Impaired Water Bodies List” is a presentation made to the SFBWQCB by Dr. Kevin Lunde detailing why the Non-Tidal Napa River should be delisted for nutrients. It was delisted that day (see document #5) and because of government machinations it will not be presented to the State Water Board until about March or April of 2019. If the State Water Board approves the delisting then it will be sent to the United States EPA and I’m told they will act within a month or two. Delisting is a very big deal and all Napa residents should be pleased.
5) This is the official document from the SFBWQCB delisting the Non-tidal Napa River.
6) This is a “Water Quality Report Card” for Pathogens in the Napa River Watershed. It is dated December 6, 2007. It is the latest report I could find. It says in part: “The primary sources of pathogens identified in the TMDL included septic systems, municipal storm water runoff, sewer discharge, grazing, and Confined Animal Facilities (CAFs).”
7) The last document is a “Draft California 2016 Integrated Report (303(d)List/305(b) Report.” This and similar reports for all the water bodies within the San Francisco Bay Area can be accessed via the above #3 document dated April 17, 2017 Staff Report.
1) Environmental Protection Agency: Nonpoint Source Success Story: Implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices Reduces Nutrients in 36 miles of the Napa River, updated December 2015
2) California Water Boards: Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and the 303(d) list of Impaired Water Bodies, updated 4/12/18
3) California Water Boards, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board: Clean Water Act, Sections 303(d) and 305 (b): 2016 Integrated Report for the San Francisco Bay Region, Staff Report, April 2017
4) Napa River and Sonoma Creek Non-tidal Portions: Delist for Nutrients from Impaired Water Bodies List by Kevin Lunde, Ph.D., Planning Division, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board, February 12, 2014
5) California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Region: Resolution No. R2-2014-0006 Recommending Changes to the List of Water Bodies as Required in Section 303(d) of The Clean Water Act
6) California Water Boards, San Francisco Bay, Region 2: Water Quality Report Card: Pathogens in the Napa River Watershed
7) California Water Board, Regional Board 2, San Francisco Bay Region: Draft California 2016 Integrated Report (303(d) List/305(b) Report): Decision ID 54405, Water Body Name: Napa River, non-tidal