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Archive for the ‘Think Blue Marin’ Category

MMWD's drinking water on request table tent

MMWD’s free “drinking water upon request” table tent

MMWD is offering free table tents to local restaurants to help them spread the word to their customers about conserving water.

Under the district’s water conservation code, restaurants may serve drinking water only upon request. In response to the drought, we are reaching out to restaurants to remind them about the requirement, which was adopted by MMWD’s Board of Directors in December 2009. The table tents are designed to make it easy for restaurants to educate their customers about the requirement and to save water and money.

When you think of the number of people who dine out in Marin, the number of water glasses that go untouched, and the water needed to wash all those glasses, the savings really add up.

So far this year, MMWD has given away about 2,000 table tents to local restaurants. The table tents are available free of charge to businesses within the district while supplies last. To order, email MMWD’s Water Conservation Department or call 945-1520.

MMWD also has launched a new social media campaign to thank local restaurants who are saving water by serving drinking water upon request. Does your favorite restaurant serve drinking water on request? Show us! Send a photo to MMWD’s Public Information Department. We will add it to our photo album, credit you, share the photo on Facebook and Twitter, and “tag” the restaurant to let them know their conservation efforts are making a difference.

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Phoenix Lake

Phoenix Lake

While the 2014 drought continues, MMWD is in far better condition than earlier this year, thanks to recent rains and reduced water consumption. This means mandatory water use reductions will not be required this year. However, the district’s request for a 25% voluntary reduction in water use is still in effect.

Rainfall in both February and March significantly improved MMWD’s reservoir levels and water consumption has been lower this year than last for each of the last eight weeks.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of March 26, reservoir storage is 61,782 acre-feet,* or 78% of capacity. The average for this date is 73,083 acre-feet, or 92% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-March 26) is 27.06 inches. Average for the same period is 45.48 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of March 17-23 averaged 18.2 million gallons per day, compared to 20.4 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of February 2014 MMWD released 367 million gallons, or a total of 1,126 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin. We release water throughout the year to maintain adequate flows for the fishery per our agreements with the State of California.

Water use and reservoir figures can be found on the Water Watch page of our website. See also our Drought Information page.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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Earth Day Marin 2014We’re pleased to be a major sponsor and partner of the Earth Day Marin 2014 Festival. The fourth annual festival is scheduled for Sunday, April 6, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Redwood High School, 395 Doherty Drive in Larkspur.

The free, family-friendly event will include music, hands-on activities, inspiring speakers, storytellers, puppet shows, authors, organic food, and more. The event is also a day of action on sustainability solutions addressing drought, climate change, and other environmental concerns.

In addition to sponsoring Earth Day Marin, we’ll be providing drinking water for the event—Mt. Tam’s finest!—as well as free stainless steel water bottles for the first 500 attendees who take action at the festival to reduce their water use.

We’ll have a variety of information and resources on hand to help you save water and money, and to learn more about where your water comes from. Highlights include:

  • Free high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators
  • One-on-one consultations with MMWD conservation specialists to help you calculate your home water use and find ways to save
  • Opportunities to sign up for MMWD rebates, water use surveys for your home or business, Marin-Friendly Garden Walks with Marin Master Gardeners, and more
  • Hands-on demonstrations of irrigation equipment
  • How to read your water meter
  • Water- and money-saving coupons from local retailers
  • Free illustrated posters of MMWD’s watershed and water system for first 150 families who visit the festival’s “water village”
  • Hands-on biodiversity activities about the plants and animals who call the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed home
  • Opportunities to volunteer on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed
  • Behind-the-scenes look at how your water gets from “Tam to tap”
  • Demonstrations of the high-tech acoustic equipment MMWD’s leak detectives use to locate leaks in the district’s 900 miles of pipeline
  • Screening of “The Invisible Peak,” Gary Yost’s new documentary about the hidden Cold War history of Mt. Tam’s West Peak and efforts to restore it

For complete details about the festival, visit earthdaymarin.org.

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MMWD new website

Sneak peek: MMWD’s new website

We’re counting down to the launch of our new website! The site has been completely redesigned to better meet the needs of our customers. In addition to a new look and feel, the site has improved functionality, is more mobile-friendly, has an instant language translation feature, and is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Navigation is improved through easy-to-use “mega menus,” more intuitive organization, and a new search feature. You’ll also find a News Flash feature, a searchable events calendar, and a searchable board Agenda Center to help you keep up with the latest district news, happenings, and issues. A “Notify Me” button allows you to sign up for email or text message alerts on topics of interest. We plan to add additional functionality in the future.

The district developed the website with CivicPlus, a website provider that specializes in working with local governments and municipalities to create websites that enhance citizen engagement. Our URL, marinwater.org, stays the same so that you can still find us easily.

We’ll be going live within the next day or so. Stay tuned!

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In this, the shortest month of the year, it didn’t take long for a concentrated series of heavy storms to significantly enhance our water supply picture. For four days starting February 6, the first “pineapple express” storm system of the year brought nearly 15 inches of rain to the district’s Lagunitas Creek watershed.

Phoenix, Lagunitas, and Bon Tempe reservoirs filled to capacity and runoff into the district’s other four reservoirs continued for a full week post-storm. Total reservoir storage increased more than 11,400 acre-feet,* or 27%, to 53,223 acre-feet by February 17. This is 67% of total storage capacity and 78% of normal storage. Current rains will bring these numbers even higher.

While MMWD’s water supply situation is vastly improved, the drought is still with us and certainly a serious issue in other parts of California. Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency in January and called for 20% voluntary cutbacks in water use by all Californians. The MMWD Board of Directors requested a 25% voluntary reduction.

This spring the board will reconsider water use restrictions based on April 1 storage. Given the improved reservoir levels, MWMD does not anticipate a need for mandatory restrictions. A voluntary reduction may still be needed for 2014, although the level could change. See our Drought 2014 Information page for more.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of February 26, reservoir storage is 53,590 acre-feet,* or 67% of capacity. The average for this date is 70,363 acre-feet, or 88% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-February 26) is 22.87 inches. Average for the same period is 39.06 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of February 17-23 averaged 14.6 million gallons per day, compared to 17.3 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of December 2013 MMWD released 439 million gallons, or a total of 1,346 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin. We release water throughout the year to maintain adequate flows for the fishery per our agreements with the State of California.

Water use and reservoir figures can be found on our homepage.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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Saving water is always important but especially during a drought like we’re having right now. There are lots of things you can do at home and at school to save water. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Be a leak detective: Check faucets and showers for drips—one drip per second adds up to eight gallons of water every day. Remember to check outdoor faucets and hoses, too.
  • A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day! Ask your parents to help you test your toilets for leaks by placing a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet in the tank and waiting about 15 minutes. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak that needs to be repaired.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a waste basket. Put facial tissues in the trash. Don’t flush spiders and other creepy-crawlies—capture them in a cup and put them outside.
  • Turn off the tap while you brush—you'll save about eight gallons every day!

    Turn off the tap while you brush—you’ll save about eight gallons every day!

    Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or lathering your hands. This is an easy way to save eight gallons or more every day.

  • Take showers instead of baths. Try timing your shower, then challenge yourself to shorten your shower by two minutes. You’ll save about five gallons!
  • Try this experiment to see how water-efficient your showerhead is. If you discover that you need a new showerhead, MMWD has free replacements available.
  • Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up. Use the water you collect to flush the toilet by pouring the bucket into the toilet bowl. Or, use this water to help your parents water thirsty house or garden plants.
  • Designate a drinking glass for each member of the family and reuse your glass throughout the day. You’ll cut down on the number of glasses that need washing.
  • If washing dishes is one of your chores, don’t rinse dishes under a running tap. Instead, fill a pan with water. Better yet, just scrape the dishes into the trash or compost and put them in the dishwasher. Remember to run the dishwasher only when full.
  • If your clothes aren’t very dirty, re-wear them before tossing them in the laundry hamper.
  • Wash your pet outside in an area of the yard that needs watering.
  • Remind your friends, classmates, and parents to conserve water, too!

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The weather in 2013 was remarkable in its consistency. Regardless of the season, it was just plain dry—winter, spring, summer and fall. In fact, 2013 set a new record low for rainfall. The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed received just 10.68 inches of rain last year, far lower than the prior record of 19 inches set in 1929 and significantly lower than the annual average of 52 inches.

Unfortunately, 2014 is bringing us more of the same so far. This January we received a barely measurable 0.01 inches of rain; average for the month is 10.86 inches.

Drought conditions now prevail in Marin and throughout the state. On January 17 Governor Brown called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent. On January 21 the MMWD Board of Directors took that request a step further, asking customers to voluntarily reduce their water use by 25 percent.

Depending on total reservoir storage on April 1, that voluntary cutback will become mandatory. Unless a substantial amount of rainfall and runoff occurs between now and April 1, storage levels are projected to be below 40,000 acre-feet,* the level that triggers the mandatory rationing. Any mandatory rationing plan will be based on water consumption prior to 2014, so cutting back now will not result in any kind of penalty should mandatory rationing be enacted on April 1. See our Drought 2014 Information page for more.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of January 31, reservoir storage is 42,127 acre-feet,* or 53 percent of capacity. The average for this date is 65,130 acre-feet, or 82 percent of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-January 31) is 3.80 inches. Average for the same period is 29.87 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of January 20-26 averaged 21.1 million gallons per day, compared to 16.8 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of December 2013 MMWD released 439 million gallons, or a total of 1,346 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin. We release water throughout the year to maintain adequate flows for the fishery per our agreements with the State of California.

Water use and reservoir figures can be found on our homepage.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

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At the December 17 meeting of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors the board unanimously passed a resolution in response to the extreme dry weather conditions and their impact on MMWD’s water supply. MMWD is dependent on rainfall for 75 percent of water consumed annually; the remaining 25 percent is imported from the Russian River in Sonoma County.

This has been an exceptionally low rainfall year so far. The total amount of rain recorded at Lake Lagunitas from July 1, 2013 to December 15, 2013 is just 3.79 inches. Average rainfall for the same period is 14.23 inches. MMWD measures rainfall from July 1 to June 30.

On a calendar year basis, MMWD is on its way to setting a new record low for rainfall. Rainfall for 2013 to date totals 10.68 inches, far less than the annual average of 52 inches and even below the record low set in 1929 of 19 inches.

The MMWD board also is asking customers to conserve water this winter and is directing staff to take necessary steps to prepare for a dry year in 2014.

MMWD has already made several changes in the way the district operates to minimize the impact of the dry 2013 spring. The district also re-started its conservation rebate program this summer to encourage more conservation.

Depending on the reservoir storage levels on April 1, 2014 MMWD may need to call for targeted cutbacks. When April 1 storage is below 50,000 acre-feet,* the board may activate a voluntary program to achieve a 10-percent reduction in water use. When April 1 reservoir storage is below 40,000 acre-feet, the board may activate a mandatory program to achieve a 25-percent savings in overall water use.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of December 15, reservoir storage is 46,224 acre-feet, or 58 percent of capacity. The average for this date is 54,367 acre-feet, or 68 percent of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-December 15) is 3.79 inches. Average for the same period is 14.23 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week ending December 15 averaged 19.6 million gallons per day, compared to 16.0 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of November 2013 MMWD released 341 million gallons, or a total of 1,047 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin. We are releasing more water this year than last to make up for the low creek flows resulting from the lack of rain. In November 2012 we released 299 million gallons, or 916 acre-feet. We release water throughout the year to maintain adequate flows for the fishery per our agreements with the State of California.

Water use and reservoir figures can be found on our homepage.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

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fire training exercise

MMWD rangers participate in a fire training exercise

MMWD Senior Ranger Phil Johnson says that when people learn what he does for a living, they usually assume he works for the state or national park system. In fact, MMWD’s ranger program—created in 1917—is one of the oldest in the state. With more than 21,000 acres of public land under our stewardship, MMWD’s rangers play a critical role in protecting our water and other natural resources, as well as the millions of people who visit the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed each year.

Every day is different for MMWD’s six rangers, who wear multiple hats as the watershed’s police, firefighters, medics, search and rescue team, naturalists and historians. One day may be spent looking for a lost child, the next extinguishing a wildfire. As you might imagine, the job requires extensive, ongoing training.

Rangers are on duty whenever the watershed is open—seven days a week, sunrise to sunset—as well as on-call for emergencies. You can help make their jobs easier when you visit by letting others know where you’ll be going and by following our land-use regulations.

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Students volunteers on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed

Student volunteers on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed show off the results of their hard work—a mountain of non-native broom.

The Marin Municipal Water District honored 40 volunteers at a special recognition lunch recently for contributing their valuable time to the protection and preservation of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed during fiscal year 2012/13. These volunteers donated nearly 7,500 hours—the equivalent of $185,625 in labor—to activities like trail maintenance, habitat restoration and endangered species protection on watershed lands between July 2012 and June 2013.

MMWD manages more than 21,600 acres of land on Mt. Tamalpais and in west Marin and counts on its volunteer workforce to help maintain and restore these lands. The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed is home to more than 900 species of plants and 400 species of animals, including 77 rare, threatened and endangered species. This abundance of life is threatened by many factors, including increased recreational use, invasive species and global climate change.

Begun in 1995, MMWD’s volunteer program recruits individuals, students and entire classes to help improve trails and habitat; greet and educate visitors; restore habitat and collect biological data; and map native and non-native plants, sudden oak death and aquatic species.

The 2012/13 fiscal year’s 85 volunteer events resulted in the following accomplishments:

  • Dozens of trails were improved for visitor safety and erosion control;
  • More than 700 school children and their parents removed acres of invasive broom, young Douglas-fir trees and other invasive plant species;
  • 140 hours were spent monitoring native western pond turtles and educating the public about this species;
  • More than 200 hours were donated to keep people and their dogs out of the breeding grounds of the native foothill yellow-legged frogs;
  • One third of the 900 plant species on the watershed were surveyed; samples will be housed at the herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences.

Without the help of volunteers, many of the important preservation and stewardship projects on the watershed would not be possible. For more information about our volunteer program and to find volunteer opportunities, visit our website.

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