When I moved to Sonoma County 30 years ago, I loved the vineyards…but they were all dry farmed back then. Over the years I have watched in dismay, then horror, at the forest-to-vineyard conversions, as the non-food ag spread like a cancer across the land. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is also the Board of the Sonoma County Water Agency; if you look up “conflict of interest” in the dictionary, you will see their pictures. I cannot imagine why this has never been taken to the Grand Jury. I have gone to hearings again and again to oppose the spread of wineries; but as soon as the landowner talks about how much property tax they will be paying, all the Board sees is dollar signs. When well permits are issued, essentially, they are selling a product they do not know exists. As many local homeowners have their wells dry up, there must be accountability; their water has been sold. Vineyards near me have 800+ foot deep wells, where the average resident has 100-150 feet; it’s just a matter of time. And in the end, what is good for the fish is good for us.
All of us who like to drink water, breathe clean air, and all that sort of radical environmentalist stuff, (most vineyards spray their vines every month with pesticides and other chemicals, which of course, drift onto adjacent lands and end up in the creeks and all waterways), need to get together and stand up for our waters. I keep telling the Board of Supes that if they simply must allow even more wineries and vineyards, then stop issuing well permits: let them buy water and have it trucked in, or buy recycled wastewater. This is classic abuse of the Commons: a few profiteers taking everyone’s resources. There are too many people to continue to allow this abuse (and not nearly enough fish). And the growers are organized and wealthy beyond our dreams; if we don’t band together and fight, we’ll go the way of the Coho.
Reverend Jane Eagle