.Napa Reservoir ‘Glory Hole’ Edges Closer to Spilling

1) There’s something about the so-called “glory hole” on the verge of forming along the surface of the Napa Valley’s Lake Berryessa reservoir that makes it really hard to look away. What we’re talking about here is a giant pipe installed inside the reservoir, to drain it when it gets too full — meanwhile creating the super trippy visual effect of a cosmic black hole in the lake. As the Press Democrat puts it: “Water that pours over the lip of the pipe plunges 200 feet straight down into a narrowing shaft that drains into Putah Creek on the downstream side of the dam and on toward the Yolo Bypass and the Sacramento River beyond. … During these overflows, the water flowing into the hole looks like the drain of a giant bathtub, or a wormhole to another dimension.” So the Lake Berryessa glory hole has become a bit of a local water-supply celebrity — especially now that she’s on the verge of spilling in on herself, for the first time in five years. Since we last checked in on Our Lady a week or so ago, the water line has risen even closer her lip. As of Saturday afternoon, the hole was within a few inches of achieving its iconic formation, according to Solano County’s water agency, the main consumer of Berryessa’s supply. One glory-hole watcher even posted some footage last week of a few trickles of water streaming into her mouth. It’s still unclear, though, if these final rains of the season will be enough to push the water line all the way over the edge — especially because reservoir managers have reportedly been letting some water out through the Monticello Dam, their other lever for avoiding overflow. (Thus further contributing to the… dare I say… “edging” effect of all this. I’m sure they know what they’re doing, but come on!) Meanwhile, though Lake Berryessa and its glory hole are getting most of the attention, the other local water sources that actually feed Napa County residents — Lake Hennessey and the county’s “sub-basin” of groundwaters — are looking pretty flush as well, thanks to these last couple of wet winters. The PD reports that “Lake Hennessey, which supplies the city of Napa, already is at the brim and ‘essentially has been spilling’ since Feb. 4, fed by creeks that run into it,” according to the city’s utility director. (Over in Sonoma County, the two main local water sources — Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino — are also way more full than usual, although they haven’t actually overflowed yet.) And at a recent Napa County Board of Supervisors meeting, a presentation on the groundwater situation reportedly showed that this “lifeblood of rural vineyards, wineries and homes is recovering from drought” at last. Still, local officials are trying to take this abundant moment in the recent cycle of “weather whiplash” to plan for an uncertain future. “Still more conservation demands appear to be coming for the farming community that is the major local groundwater user,” the Napa Valley Register reports. “Napa County leaders want to cut total pumping in the valley sub-basin by 10%. … Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a groundwater pumping reduction work plan. Voluntary water conservation and incentives come first. If those don’t work, potential mandatory actions such as well metering and pumping limits for wells or areas could be imposed.” (Source: Trevor Hardee via Facebook & Solano County Water Agency & Lake Berryessa News via Facebook & Napa Valley Focus & KRCB & Napa Valley Register & Press Democrat & Press Democrat)

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