Lake Berryessa News Special Storm Report

January 11, 2017

The storm is over, roads are closed, but Lake Berryessa is finally filling up! See the latest dramatic Drone video by Evan Kilkus. Rock slides, Glory Hole, and a panoramic Lake Berryessa from above the Berryessa Highlands.

10"+ of Rain Takes Its Toll, But Lake Berryessa is Taking Shape Again (1/11/2017)

Rainbow over Lake Berryessa1


Lake Level Status: 1/13/17 (10AM)

As of 10 AM the lake level hit 419 feet - 21 feet below Glory Hole - up  only 2.64 inches since yesterday, but the highest level since the Spring of 2014.

More good news is that the Capell Public Launch Ramp is to open today, 1/13/17

The lake level at this time last year was 397.3 feet, 21.7 feet lower than today.

The level has risen 20.4 feet since its low of 398.6 feet on 10/23/16.

Rainfall total (as of 1/12/17) is 20.4 inches, 10.5 inches more than last year at this time.

At the present level, Lake Berryessa holds 1,172,727 acre-feet of water - 73.3% of its 1,600,000 A-F capacity.


Lake level 2010-011317
Steele Canyon & launch 011117


Here is a good resource for Napa County road closures. Click on an incident icon and the details will pop up.



HWY 128 between Canyon Creek Campground & Pleasents Valley Rd is CLOSED. Motorists will not be able to drive between Winters & Lake Berryessa via Hwy 128.

For those who use SR-128 to get from I-80 to Napa County, here is some news for you! SR-128 is closed from Canyon Creek Resort to Pleasants Valley Rd. A large tree has fallen and taken the earth with it. There will be some extensive work done to shore it up. There is no ETA for SR-128 to re-open. There is no ETA for SR-128 to re-open.

HWY 128 road closure
HWY 128 road closure1
HWY 128 road closure2


Download the January 2017 Lake Berryessa News print edition here:



Watch Lake Berryessa rise in real time at:



See Lake Berryessa real time from the Berryessa Highlands and watch the storm roll through at:



Lake Berryessa Rainfall and Lake Level History

January 2017 has started off well, but a lot more rain is needed to raise the lake level significantly. The lake rises, on average, about 7 inches per inch of rain. The level is now at about 405 feet, 35 feet to go to fill up. This means we still need about 60 inches more rain this year. Most people would be satisfied if the lake goes up 25 more feet - needing only about 42 more inches!

Rain Summary 97-17 story1


Will 2017 Be Lake Berryessa's Lucky Year?

Looking back on 2016 at Lake Berryessa one might think that nothing much happened. But a year is a long time, and 2016 did have some momentous events for the lake community. In 2015, after a year of economic analysis and community outreach, the Bureau of Reclamation released a detailed Bid Prospectus in another attempt to solicit recreation companies to reopen the closed recreation areas. Hopes were high, but Reclamation announced that no successful bids were received in response to the latest Prospectus (the third failed bid process since 2006).

In March, 2016 the Lake Berryessa News headline read: A Modest Proposal: Radical Restructuring - Ownership and Management of Lake Berryessa Should Be Transferred to Napa County. For several months the case was made by the Lake Berryessa News and supported by the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce and the majority of the Lake Berryessa community. 

Both Napa County and Reclamation responded positively (although hesitantly) to this proposal. On April 5, 2016, the Board authorized staff to engage in discussions with Reclamation and the Department of the Interior (DOI) regarding the future of the concession areas of Lake Berryessa.

By May 15, 2016 the proposal was getting some traction and the Lake Berryessa News headline read: “A Path Forward To Revitalize Lake Berryessa: Fire The Feds!” I wrote at the time, “We need a revolutionary strategy to stop the death spiral at Lake Berryessa. The fifteen year failure of the Bureau of Reclamation is not based on simple ineptness, often complex ineptness is involved. 

But the failure is actually based more on a fatally-flawed policy at the federal level which treats Lake Berryessa as just another "lake in the country" to be dealt with as any other federal rural holding - independent of context. Lake Berryessa is not another “lake in the country”. It is a major economic, social, and recreation resource in an urban-proximate setting whose value to Napa County and the State of California is being utterly wasted.”

The Lake Berryessa News, the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce, and local residents then strongly promoted a new strategy - have Napa County take over management of the lake recreation areas under a Managing Partner Agreement with Reclamation. The headline on June 1 was even more aggressive: “Open Letter to the Federal Government: Get Out of Lake Berryessa!” The Bureau of Reclamation and Napa County were listening. 

On June 7, 2016, the County entered into an agreement with Perkins Coie for specialized legal advisory services on federal statutory and regulatory law as it pertains to concessions management. 

On June 21, 2016, the Board directed staff to enter into negotiations for a Managing Partner Agreement between the County and Reclamation. Under a Managing Partner Agreement, the responsibility to develop and manage public recreation areas would be transferred to Napa County.

At the December 6th Board of Supervisors meeting the supervisors accepted a recommendation to move forward with this strategy by providing direction to staff to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Reclamation and a contract with Ragatz Sedgwick Realty for its knowledge and experience in developing hotels, resorts and other recreational opportunities worldwide.

Under this agreement, Ragatz Sedgwick Realty will assist the County in  identifying interested concession partners by marketing the opportunity to the resort community and performing a feasibility analysis to determine the best use of each site. The County’s intent is to market Lake Berryessa and seek interest in the opportunities that exist. The goal is to create a short list of interested parties that are viable and have interest and ideas that can fit within the Visitor Services Plan. 

If Ragatz Sedgwick is successful in identifying interest, the County and Reclamation will move forward with negotiating a Managing Partner Agreement for recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and creating a formal Request for Proposal process to select a concessionaire.

The Ragatz Sedgwick team will be in Napa County during the week of January 9-13, 2017 to begin their research. They will meet with the Bureau of Reclamation as well as other interested parties such as the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce, Visit Napa Valley members, and others.

Ragatz Sedgwick Realty (www.ragatzsedgwick.com) is an international commercial brokerage firm focused exclusively on the resort real estate industry. Ragatz Associates, has offered consulting services to the resort real estate industry for 40 years. The firm has conducted more than 2,500 assignments in 48 states and more than 70 countries. Clients include practically every significant development and financial institution in the industry on a global basis.

The goal is to move as quickly as possible in tandem with other discussions. Hopefully, within two to three months, they’ll have an idea as to how great the interest is and how quickly the process can move forward. And maybe this actually will Lake Berryessa’s lucky year!


Memorandum of Understanding Signed by Reclamation with Napa County Related to Lake Berryessa Recreation Management

On Jan. 6, 2017, the Bureau of Reclamation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Napa County (County) Board of Supervisors related to recreation management at Lake Berryessa. The MOU supports the County’s efforts to proceed with a Request for Information/Interest (RFII) through which they will hire a broker to contact representatives of the hospitality industry to determine possible interest in developing concession areas at Lake Berryessa.

While the RFII process is underway, Reclamation and the County are continuing negotiations on a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA). Assuming the results of the RFII show viability, both agencies intend to complete the MPA process by mid-2017.

At a public meeting held at Lake Berryessa in June 2016, Mid-Pacific Deputy Regional Director Pablo Arroyave discussed the MPA process. He stated that Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López had met with County representatives to discuss management options at Lake Berryessa and that several options had been identified. The County expressed interest in exploring a possible MPA, and Reclamation provided them with sample agreements and copies of relevant laws and policies.

For additional information, please contact Jonathan Friedman, Chief, Recreation Resources Manager, Central California Area Office, at 916-989-7128 (TTY 800-877-8339) or jfriedman@usbr.gov.


Lake Berryessa Senior Center

Join the fun. You don’t have to be a “senior” to join the organization. Dues are just $25 a year and you only have to be 50 to be an official member. The Senior Center is a self-supporting non-profit organization. They have regular events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, the annual Crab Feed, summer bbqs, and various fundraisers. 

Bingo is at 1:00PM until 4:00PM every Monday afternoon.

Saturday, January 21, 2017: 

Soup, Stew, Chili Potluck. 5:30 PM Social, 6:30 PM dinner.

Bring your crock pot and share your best. Cornbread and rolls will be supplied.

Saturday, February 18, 2017: Annual Crab Feed. Traditionally one of the biggest social events at Lake Berryessa. Not to be missed. Details to come.

The Center is available to rent for special occasions. There is a minimal charge and a cleaning deposit. Call for details: 966-0206, 4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd. In the past the Center has hosted weddings, receptions, memorials, and many community functions such as blood drives, flu shots, Bureau of Reclamation presentations and community meetings.


The Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce

Dear Chamber Members and Potential Chamber Members,

Thanks for your support during the last year. Significant progress has been made towards having Napa County take over management of the lake recreation areas. The Chamber has had a major influence in making this happen. And we are continuing to work with the County and their consultants. Hopefully 2017 will see continued progress and a final resolution.

The Chamber’s tourist information program includes our partnership with Visit Napa Valley including our own Lake Berryessa page on the excellent Visit Napa Valley website: www.visitnapavalley.com. Our own page is at: 


Our partnership with Visit Napa Valley also guarantees that Lake Berryessa is featured in the Napa Valley Guidebook, which is distributed nationwide and can be viewed online by potential visitors at: 


The Chamber will also continually promote Lake Berryessa and its businesses in the Lake Berryessa News and on the Chamber web page on the Lake Berryessa News web site: 


You do not have to be a business owner to become a member. Anyone who wants to help improve our local community is welcome, and encouraged, to join. Simply send your contact information and a check for $25 made payable to the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce to:

Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce

Spanish Flat Village Center

Unit # 9318

Napa , CA 94558

Thanks for your support,

Chamber Board 2017: Peter Kilkus (President), Bob Lee (Vice-President), Jerry Rehmke (Treasurer), Craig Morton, Paul Quarneri,Tracy Renee, Marcia Ritz 


$117 Fire Prevention Fee Being Put to Work in  Eastern Napa County

Fire sign

An additional fire engine is staffed and on duty in Napa County this winter, and it has a specific purpose.  Fire prevention.  In recent years the CAL Fire budgets have been used up, and then some, during their busier than usual summer fire seasons, making winter prevention work almost impossible to budget.  Now, due to the fee paid by all residents who live in the State Responsibility Area, there are funds designated specifically for wildfire prevention in rural areas.

Starting back in November, 2016, the 3 to 4 person engine has been bouncing around from the Berryessa Highlands, to Circle Oaks, to Berryessa Estates, and several other communities, helping with various fire safety projects. The projects are often coordinated by volunteers with local Fire Safe Councils, and they use prison crew labor to do what they do best - cutting and piling the bulky brush material. 

The partnership has already resulted in the clearing of several acres of strategic fire breaks around these communities, making Napa County residents safer one day at a time. For info on how to help your home survive a wildfire, please visit www.readyforwildfire.org

fire trucks
Crew burning




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.



Click Photo For A Real Time Webcam View of Lake Berryessa



Read the Latest Print Edition Here.

Downlhad the January2017 Lake Berryessa News print edition pdf here:


LBNews Pg 8&1 Jan17
LBNews Pg 2&7 Jan17
LBNews Pg 6&3 Jan17
LBNews Pg 4&5 Jan17


Lake Berryessa History 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation has destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of children. 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.    

How Could the Government Have Done Something So Stupid?

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.

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".

Full lake level history 2015


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Lake Level Fifty Year History


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016