Click here to read the full letter...

John Kirlin    

Dear Supervisors:

Please vote “no” on this proposed ordinance.

1.  Wildfires are THE land use problem in Napa County, as they are for much of California...

2. Napa County’s choices are exactly the opposite of those pursued by the State of California…

3. Blanket prohibitions on improvements on slopes greater than 30% and new setback requirements for class 3 ephemeral streams affect vast areas of Napa County. The provisions are a taking of rights of current owners...

4. The Ordinance is also unintelligible because of conflicts and ambiguities...

In conclusion, this Ordinance should be rejected. It is not needed, it increases risks of wildfires, is at odds with policies of the State of California, it takes property, and it is fatally ambiguous and intelligible.

It is also inconsistent with the best available science and advice based on local fire- fighting experience.

Please reject this ordinance. Address land uses recognizing the inevitability of wildfires. Use the best available science, engaging named science advisors. Enlist property owners in achieving a sustainable future for Napa County.    


Lake Berryessa News Special Report: March 22, 2019

Say NO to the Proposed Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance!

Read the ordinance at: www.countyofnapa.org/DocumentCenter/View/12059/Draft-ordinance

The Planning Commission has approved it and forwarded it to the Board of Supervisors, where it is scheduled for enactment March 26. 

Here's a Q&A cheat sheet for Napa County's watershed debate:


Napa Planning Commission watershed protection recommendations:


To help stop this flawed ordinance please attend the public hearing on March 26 at 9:00 am at 1195 Third Street, Suite 305, Napa and speak up. Send your comments to the Napa County Board of Supervisors in an email.

Pedroza, Alfredo


Dillon, Diane


 Ryan Gregory


Belia Ramos


Brad Wagenknecht


Planning Manager.


Dear Lake Berryessa News readers, Napa County rural residents, and members and friends of the Lake Berryessa community. 

Please take action to oppose the flawed and unnecessary Napa Water Quality And Tree Protection Ordinance.

Below is my letter to the supervisors as an example. But more important are the well-reasoned letters from George Bacich and Jeffrey Earl Warren. The last letter from George Bacich regarding CEQA is especially meaningful to me because it was the unethical use of NEPA, CEQA, the State Historic Preservation Act, and other irrelevant regulations which helped the Bureau of Reclamation destroy Lake Berryessa recreation and delay the revitalization of the Lake Berryessa region to the present day.


From the Lake Berryessa News

Dear Supervisors,

I ask that you vote against the proposed Napa Water Quality And Tree Protection Ordinance. The Lake Berryessa News strongly opposed the failed Measure C ordinance. This new proposal is simply a rewrite of that failed proposal.

Despite applehood and mother pie statements about the environmental benefits of the original Oak Woodlands Initiative, Measure C was simply an anti-winery, anti-vineyard, anti-growth measure - as is the new proposal before you.

I've read the proposed ordinance and it appears to be only slightly less onerous than Measure C, but as unnecessary too. The 3 to 1 tree replacement is excessive, as is the canopy cover requirement. And the climate change argument is irrelevant to the need for such an ordinance except in the fact that the ordinance limits tree removal when it should be trying to limit California's impact on our CO2 footprint caused by continual, massive wild fires. (See letters from George Bacich and Jeffrey Earl Warren below.)

Trying to restrict private property owners' rights, especially those in rural areas, to control development for no compelling environmental benefit is not the right answer. Napa County is already the most protected county in the state, if not the country, and has excellent land use controls already on its books.

Thank you for your attention,

Peter Kilkus

Publisher, The Lake Berryessa News

Click here for a detailed analysis and discussion of the unnecessay ordinance.


Lake Level as of 3/19/19

Lake level has dropped to 441.2, 1.2’ above Glory Hole. Depending on future rainfall the lake may stay above Glory Hole for a few more weeks. 

Glory Hole and Dam Outputs1
Glory Hole schematic cross-section final 031519 edited-1

Lake levels 031919

The charts below show how long Glory Hole kept spilling in 2017 and the level to-date in 2019.

2019 Glory Hole spill time combo

Season rainfall remains at 34.15 inches at Monticello Dam. The additional chart shows rainfall during February, March, and April since 2011. 

Rainfall History 2011 2019

Statistically there is no evidence that there will be any significant rainfall for the rest of this rainy season. It is unlikely that the lake level will rise again. If you want to see the Glory Hole flow, do it within the next few weeks.

The lake water is still COLD with temperatures in the low 50s.

Lake temps 031919


The latest issue of the Lake Berryessa News has been published. Download your copy at:

LBNews Pg 8&1 Mar19r


Bonus Aerial Footage: Putah Creek Below The Monticello Dam With 10 Times the Usual Water Flow!

Two frequently Asked Questions are... where does the water from Lake Berryessa go? And... is it flooding downstream? So, after flying around the lake and the dam on Wednesday, with 2 half batteries left, we were able to get a bit more footage for you to show the first few miles of the answer.

By the way, a short, but 23 mile long answer... After leaving the lake the water goes down Putah Creek, thru Winters, then thru Davis, before it enters the Sacramento River and California Delta. OR/ALSO, Solano County uses if for drinking water supply, farms, and industrial/commercial. And the second question... it's only flooding a little bit. So check it out in the video to see for yourself.

Special thanks to Bill Scholer for the delightful music!

Lake Berryessa Glory  Hole Spill Watch 2019

The Lake Berryessa News Drone shows history as it happens - again! Couldn’t wait to share this amazing video by FAA-certified Drone pilot, Evan Kilkus. Thanks to Marty Rodden of Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rentals (https://lakeberryessaboats.com/) and one of our favorite musician/composrs, Bill Scholer.

Enjoy the 4K SIGHT and SOUND of literally millions of gallons of water, literally going down a drain. The North half of the San Francisco Bay Area just experienced 2 days of a direct hit from an "Atmospheric River", which soaked the Lake Berryessa watershed with 10 to 15" of rain. Lake Berryessa went up 6 feet in just 3 days, and it peaked out on February 27th, 2019 at 4.1' above the spillway, known as the "Glory Hole". (When the lake overflowed in 2017, it peaked out at 3.5' over.) The water discharge peaked this afternoon as the storm has passed. Water discharge reached about 9,500 Cubic Feet Per Second. Normal winter flow, is less than 100 CFPS. Normal Summer outflow is 500-600 CFPS. 

Rent a Boat, Jet Ski, Kayak or more this Spring and Summer at:

Lake Berryessa Boat & Jet Ski Rentals!: www.LakeBerryessaBoats.com - 707-966-4204, 4420 Knoxville Rd, Napa, CA 94558 

 Song: "The Last Cool Breeze", Bill Scholer 

 Video By: Evan Kilkus

Lake Berryessa overflowed Glory Hole at 10:30 AM on Tuesday,February 26, 2019.

Glory Hole 022619 1030AMa

The lake level hit 444.1' - 4.1'  above Glory Hole at 8 AM, 2/28/19. That’s an increase of more than 5' in 24 hours!

Glory Hole drone close 022719 edited-2

In 2017 the highest point was 443.6'. Before that it was 443.5' in 2006. Highest lake level was 446.7' in 1983.

Lake Levels 1990 2017
Dam Outputs 022719 edited-1
Dam panorama 022719
Lower Putah Creek 022719

Two day rainfall in the Berryessa Highlands was 6.8" - season total is at 36.7" as of 2/28/19. Season total rainfall at Monticello Dam is now at 31.4".

Photographic and video evidence shows the lake spilling over at 10:30 AM. However, the official measurement provided by the Solano County Water Agency at that exact moment was 439.9 feet - off by 1 inch. The “official” machine-measured time of the lake hitting 440 feet was 11:30 AM. 

The Lake Berryessa water level is officially measured on the Monticello Dam in a “stilling well” equipped with a float tape attached to a digital rotary encoder that measures to 0.01 ft.

The Glory Hole is 72 feet in diameter at lake level, 245 feet long, and narrows down to about 28 feet at the exit to Putah Creek below the dam. The rim of the structure is very flat - as can be seen from the photos and videos showing lake water spilling over at exactly the same height all around its circumference. 

Those of us who have ever used a bubble level to simply hang a picture frame should be immensely impressed by the this feat of engineering from 1956.

The fact that the calibration between the measuring device and the actual lake level is only off by one inch is amazing. The Solano County Water Agency should simply recalibrate their measuring device by one inch to increase its accuracy to match the empirical evidence. 

Precision and accuracy are often used interchangeably, but in science they have very different meanings. Measurements that are close to the known value are said to be accurate, whereas measurements that are close to each other are said to be precise.

The ideal situation is when the measurement is both accurate and precise. That happens when your eyes see the water start to flow into Glory Hole at the same time as your cell phone app shows 440 feet on the SCWA lake level web site.

Glory Hole 022629 - 10AM
Glory Hole close 022319 edited-1


Glory Hole: Awesome, Frightening, But Dangerous?
by Peter Kilkus, 3/3/19

There's been a lot of news coverage of Lake Berryessa during the last few days now that the Glory Hole has spilled again for the second time in three years. The photos and videos taken by the Lake Berryessa News Drone have amazed, and frightened, people who have never seen the Glory Hole in action before. Inevitably the question is raised about the danger of the structure.

It's difficult to get close to the Glory Hole at any time due to the barriers in place. And only a fool would cross the buoy line to get close to it when it's flowing strongly four feet over the edge, as it is now. The Glory Hole has only spilled 25 times in 60 years. This year is the 26th. But back in 1997 a woman did die when she “fell” in. In the story from SFGATE below you can see that the water was not very high if she were able to grip the top for so long.There was speculation at the time that she had purposely pushed herself over the edge, not been "sucked" in.

Witnesses had tried to talk the lady for many minutes to convince her to swim to shore, but she refused. Data shows that the lake level was only a few inches above the lip of the spillway. She was never “sucked” into the spillway. Her body was found several hours later in Lower Putah Creek.

Glor Hole height at death 1997 edited-2

SFGate EDITOR'S NOTE - 2017 Update: This story is from 1997. It is being resurfaced by other sites and on search due to current coverage of the Lake Berryessa Glory Hole spilling over in February 2017.

ORIGINAL STORY: Woman Sucked Into Lake Berryessa Spillway (Wednesday, March 12, 1997)
Napa -- Emily Schwalek, 41, of Davis was killed Sunday when she was sucked down a spillway at the Monticello Dam at Lake Berryessa. The spillway, which drops straight down more than 200 feet, is known as the Glory Hole. It routes excess water from the lake into a 72 foot diameter entrance structure known as the Glory Hole down to a 28-foot-wide exit pipe. Authorities said witnesses reported seeing Schwalek swimming toward the spillway at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The woman dropped out of sight after gripping the edge of the hole for about 20 minutes, witnesses said. There has never been a documented case of anyone else falling through the Glory Hole, said Don Burbey of the Solano Irrigation District.


I spoke with a couple at the dam on Friday, March 1, who were saddened to have just seen a grebe go ever the edge and into the Glory Hole. Another visitor posted this video of a bird (cormorant or grebe?) going over the edge.  The bird was so low to the water it did nor have a good view of its horizon. It was probably surprised. Several observers went to the other side of the lookout point and said they did see it come out safely into lower Putah Creek. See the video at the following link:



See my detailed report on how Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam function at:



Special Release: New combined report for those who want to know almost everything about how Lake Berryessa works!

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty

by Peter Kilkus

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource

Download Full Report PDF Here...


Welcome to the best map of Lake Berryessa you’ll ever find!

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Click here to download a pdf copy.

1 Lake Map Base 082317


Lake Berryessa Fills and Glory Hole Spills: The Video History

This amazing series of Lake Berryessa News Drone videos by Evan Kilkus documents the 45 foot rise of Lake Berryessa in 2017.



Full lake level history 2015
Lake Levels 2006 to 031217 edited-1
Lake Levels 1990 2017



Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.




1958 - 2018

by Peter Kilkus


What Happened At Lake Berryessa? The Book! 

(Click to Download the PDF here)

Table Of Contents


Without THE LAKE BERRYESSA NEWS there would be no Lake Berryessa News…and finally there would be no definitive history of what happened at Lake Berryessa. Having participated directly for more than twenty years as an advocate for the lake in the fiasco that was the Bureau of Reclamation’s Visitor Services Plan, its farcical but tragic outcome, and the process of rebuilding, I have very strong views of the causes and results - supported by facts and data which were mostly obfuscated by the proponents of the destruction of the lake’s residential and business community.

The Bureau of Reclamation and their supporters destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of families, children, and friends. Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

The goal of this book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place.

The initial timeline shows a condensed history of the process. The next section tells the story through the eyes of Lake Berryessa News articles. With the permission of the Napa Register, a parallel history is presented through contemporaneous editorials, articles, and letters to the editor from the Napa Register.

This book is not a traditional academic exercise in historical exposition. Academic historians define history as presenting facts without expressing any opinion or analysis of the events whereas memories are comprised of emotions that can have a great influence on the perception of an actual event. Critical historians live by the old saying of "there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth."

I’m more interested in the narrative approach to defining this history. Almost two decades have passed since this story began, and Lake Berryessa history has been created with every day of that twenty years.

This book is the raw, as-it-happened, unfiltered picture of what many of us lived through. It is organized chronologically; focused on a single coherent story; primarily descriptive but also analytical; primarily concerned with people but also the abstract circumstances in which they find themselves. To me a big part of the fascination with any history is trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in that past.

The future may finally looking brighter for Lake Berryessa or does it? History continues to unfold.

Peter Kilkus, Lake Beryessa, 2018


Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.        

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".

How It All Began: The Origins of the “Big Lie”

Lake Berryessa History Timeline: 1958 - 2018

Click here for PDF version

Lake Berryessa News (2010 - 2018): A VERY SLOW MOTION Disaster! 

Click here for PDF version


Some Interesting Past Stories

February 2019: 2nd Anniversary of Glory Hole Spilling

Moskowite Corners: A Landmark in Lake Berryessa History 

Gets A New Owner - Again!

My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berryessa

Silly Septic System Standards Harm Rural Napa

A Fishy Fishing Story at Lake Berryessa

Undercover agents and all…plus a new Fishing Guide Policy from Reclamation

Analysis of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument - the Dumbest National Monument in the United States

Lake Berryessa History: The Summer of Love (1967) versus The Summers of Chaos (1998-1999) 

Lake Berryessa 1998-1999 Rap Concerts

Rattlesnakes: Friend or Enemy – or just a primal fear?


Special Publications (PDF)

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource (Combined Reports)

Combined Report Title Page and Index


As Lake Berryessa Flows: 

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty 

(Single Report)


As Lake Berryessa Turns!

Temperature and Fishing in a Warm, Monomictic Lake 

(Single Report)  


Seeing Underwater at Lake Berryessa 

(Single Report)


The History of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument: The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act

By Peter Kilkus (6/20/17)

The Twisted Ten-Year Political Path From a Modest Nature Area Partnership to a Local Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area to a Large Disjointed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area to an Incoherent Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Is it the “Dumbest National Monument in the United States”? An objective review of the process by which it was created and the final formal designation suggests the answer is YES. I personally support the creation of legitimate national monuments, but this is not that. Being part of the ten year political process that led to its creation convinced me that in many situations the Antiquities Act is being abused. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a perfect case study of this abuse. 

Read the full report here.


Conspiracy Theory Or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots Of Environmental Destruction        

By Peter F. Kilkus 

Download PDF of this report (2 MB)


The Amazing Foods of Chef Neiman Marxist

Chef Neiman Marxist French


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Bird video

No on C - Oak Woodlands Initiative

ACDC Intros mix


Glory Hole Overflows

County Berryessa Map Larg

pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018