Opinion: Is it really Grape-growing vs. Wastewater in Wine Country?

The Press Democrat story describes some very critical water quality issues that will have to be addressed in the North Bay Water Reuse Authority Project, as well as in the North Sonoma County Agricultural Reuse Project. Over the past several years, SCWA, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, and their engineering and consulting firms have minimized or ignored the very important issues of impacts of emerging toxics (remaining pharmaceuticals, hormone disruptors, heavy metals, chlorination by-products and other constituents of tertiary treated water) to grapes, soils and groundwater.

That failure will not suffice in a world-class wine grape market, particularly as these US Bureau of Reclamation programs are pushed forward for possible approvals and funding. The USBR programs primarily benefit grape growers who have already exhausted their local supplies of ground and surface waters. The analyses for EIR/EIS and of the economic impacts of distributing treated wastewater with these remaining constituents requires a much more detailed and considered response.

This is in addition to consideration of whether the recycling of treated wastewater should be primarily used to offset the current and future demands of potable water derived from the Eel and Russian Rivers and local groundwater, rather than primarily being used to expand the agricultural customer base of the SCWA and other water vendors as they are in these USBR proposals.

David Keller Bay Area, Director Friends of the Eel River