Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management | News

“Rather than working with the City to move that process forward, Water Audit has decided to abandon a collaborative approach and instead file a lawsuit against the City. It makes you wonder if they were ever truly committed to working with the City to protect our natural resources, or simply trying to collect information to use in their next lawsuit.

“It is especially disappointing at a time when the City and its citizens are taking extraordinary measures to conserve and protect our water resources in the face of extreme drought conditions. Now, the City will be forced to spend taxpayer dollars on litigation, which could otherwise be spent on other important public needs, including addressing the City’s water challenges. It is difficult to imagine how that is in the public interest.”

Before the dispute over groundwater, Water Audit sued the city in 2016 over the diversion of water into Bell Canyon Reservoir. It threatened to sue the city in 2017 over the delayed removal of the Upper York Creek Dam, which the city removed in 2020.

The latest legal dispute takes place as St. Helena water customers are subject to water rationing due to a Phase II water emergency.

Water system operators are maximizing the use of St. Helena’s Stonebridge wells and its Napa water connection to limit reliance on Bell Canyon Reservoir, which is at less than 40% of capacity amid a severe drought.

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