Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a move that could open doors for similar deals in the future.

A need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16. The State Water Project (SWP) has been unable to guarantee as much water as it has in the past. This year, the state’s allocation amounted to only 20%. In good years, the allocation has reached around 60%. The shortfall this year triggered a response to the Napa water offer, according to a report by Amparo Flores of the Zone 7 integrated planning division.

The exchange between the two state water contractors would cost $230 per acre foot (AF) — the amount of water that covers 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot. It can supply two average households for one year.

Zone 7 would acquire 5,000 AF this year at a total cost of $1.15 million. Some $1.1 million was included in this year’s budget for a water agreement.

Under the water exchange terms, Zone 7 will return 25% of the amount that it acquires from Napa by the end of the decade. After that, other water supply projects are expected to be available, said Flores.

There are advantages to the exchange, one being that water rights will not be negotiated, since they are already determined by the SWP. The other is that special environmental work will not be required.

Bauer-Kahan Swears in Board

Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan attended the virtual meeting, and swore in the four directors who were elected this year. They include Michelle Smith McDonald, who won a short-term running unopposed; Angela Ramirez Holmes; Sandy Figuers; and newcomer Laurene Green.

In the annual reorganization of board positions, directors unanimously chose Olivia Sanwong as the new president, replacing Figuers. Sanwong was approved as vice president last year. Ramirez Holmes will now serve as vice president. Although she had been elected as board president, filling out the term of the late Jim McGrail, she had never been selected to be vice president during her eight years of service on the board.

Board Raises Environmental Questions

The board also heard a report concerning water pollutants, a topic members have seen from time to time over the past two years. The pollutants include PFAFs, an acronym for Per-and PolyfluoroAlkyl Substances. They are found in flame retardants, stain repellents, nonstick pans and water-resistant cloth. They have been linked to kidney and cardiovascular disease.

Directors decided to

move the subject over to the

board’s Water Resources

Committee. All members noted its importance, but some posed many questions about finding the best solutions, along with funding for those solutions.

The board asked staff to come to the committee meeting, at a date to be determined, with enough information for the committee to jump into the topic.