You’ve got to hand it to Mendo’s wine mob. Their record of staying entirely unregulated is perfect. They have escaped any serious criticism, let alone regulation, for their sleep-depriving, loud, noise generating frost fans; they’ve nearly pumped Lake Mendocino dry in an historical drought before any reduction orders had a chance to take effect; they’ve convinced most Mendolanders that their hundreds of ponds and large scale land-scrapings are somehow proof of their environmentalism; they’ve avoided any restrictions on the applications of unregulated pesticides and tons of noxious sulfur; they’ve viciously fended off the one minuscule farmworkers union foothold a couple of decades ago; they’ve kept any form of ag-related grading ordinance from being enacted; they’ve kept their water costs at a bare minimum, they’ve avoided any kind if environmental impact requirements; and they’ve quietly taken over every water board and agency in the County.
And while doing all that, they seem to have even convinced the general public and the few remaining self-described “environmentalists” that pot growers, not their 17,000 acres of water-sucking grapes, are responsible for most of the current water shortages!
It’s an impressive accomplishment — for them.
To help seal the deal they — the wine people who dominate the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency (UVBGSA) — have now prepared the most wine-friendly “Groundwater Sustainability Plan Draft” possible, making sure that this backwater agency created by a drought-driven 2014 state law does absolutely nothing to restrict or impinge on the interests of Mendo’s inland grape growers.
On August 16 their draft “plan” was released for public review, giving the public until September 24, 2021 to comment, after which their draft plan to do nothing about groundwater sustainability will be official policy.
According to their press release, “A Groundwater Sustainability Plan is a 20-year plan to ensure the sustainable use of groundwater within a groundwater basin. The Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (UVBGSA) is required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to develop a GSP by January 31, 2022. The goal of the GSP is to establish a standard for ‘sustainability’ of groundwater management and use, and to determine how the basin will achieve this standard.”
How can we be so sure that the plan will do nothing but assure the “sustainability” of the current wine-dominated status quo?
Simple: by reading the contents of the draft plan.
Take for example “Projects And Management Actions (PMAs).”
“In developing PMAs, priorities for consideration include minimizing impacts to the Basin’s economy [i.e., grape growers], maximizing external funding [for grape growers], and prioritizing voluntary and incentive-based programs over mandatory programs.”
Translation: Nobody will be required (mandated) to do anything. In fact, they hope to be aided and abetted in their continuing water demands.
What about metering or end-user gages?
“The Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District intends to conduct a feasibility study to replace old meters and calibrate existing meters to improve tracking of surface water diversions and assess the possibility of telemetry instrumentation. This project would provide data regarding surface water diversions amount and location, and help improve water budget calculations and re-calibrate the integrated hydrological model.”
The grape-grower dominated Flood Control District “intends” to conduct a study to replace “existing meters” (not add any) none of which monitor grape grower usage or pumping. But they do “plan” to “install new streamgages on both the main stem of the Russian river and along key tributaries.”
Those gages should have been in place decades ago!
And what will they do with their “new” gages?
“Changes in streamflow entering the Basin will be monitored and evaluated through existing and proposed new streamflow gauges and through statistical analyses of acquired data.”
Translation: The wine people in these local water agencies will “monitor” themselves to make sure they're getting all the water they can get.
What about conservation? Surely, there’s at least some lip service paid to conservation, isn’t there?
“Conservation Programs and Green Infrastructure — The objective of these types of projects is to increase water yield from the watershed through green infrastructure.”
You read that right: The “conservation plan” is to “increase water yield.” There is nothing in the “sustainability” plan about actual reduction in water demand, voluntary or otherwise. NOT — A — WORD.
Don’t believe us? Think we’re exaggerating?
Read the plan for yourself: mendocinocounty.org/government/affiliated-agencies/ukiah-valley-basin-gsa/groundwater-sustainability-plan
PS. Need we even mention that this pathetic excuse for a “sustainability” plan was prepared and ushered to completion over the last five years under the auspices of wine mob herd bull Glenn McGourty who made sure that neither he nor his grape growing pals and supporters will be bothered by any pesky, but irrelevant, “sustainability” planning documents.