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Archive for the ‘Think Blue Marin’ Category

Having lived through three Marin County droughts, MMWD customer Anne Layzer has become an expert at saving water—even while maintaining a 2,000-square-foot vegetable garden and several smaller flower beds. Her favorite advice for conserving water in the garden? Compost.

Many people think of composting as a way to nourish plants and reduce waste by recycling plant and vegetable trimmings back into the garden. But adding compost to your garden also saves water by building healthier, more sponge-like soil that better absorbs and holds onto moisture. Plants growing in amended soil fare better in drought conditions. And of course by composting kitchen scraps rather than sending them down the garbage disposal, you’ll also save the water and energy needed to operate the disposal unit.

Compost piles

Anne’s backyard composting operation

You can start composting on a small scale and work your way up to an elaborate composting operation like Anne’s, which she describes as a central feature of her garden and household recycling program. Her backyard piles have a diverse diet that includes food scraps, leaves, shredded paper, and grape skins from a wine-making neighbor. Even weeds aren’t unwelcome in her garden—they’re more fodder for the pile.

Anne jokes that she doesn’t know whether she has a compost pile because she has a garden or a garden because she has a compost pile. As her daughter says, “Neither: They are one.”

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Marin County FairOur partners Marin Master Gardeners will be at the Marin County Fair today through Sunday with lots of great advice and resources for gardening in a drought. Drop by the “Potting Shed” to learn about designing low-water-use landscapes, water-wise edible gardening, and much more! Check out the schedule of activities.

The fair is open daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., July 2 – 6, at the county fairgrounds at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael.

Can’t make it to the fair? Marin Master Gardeners will come to you! Sign up for a Marin-Friendly Garden Walk at your home and get personalized, water-wise tips for a beautiful, healthy landscape. Watch the video below to learn more about the walks, then call 415-473-4204 to schedule your free appointment.

 

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MMWD 2014 Annual Water Quality ReportThe Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) has released its 2014 Annual Water Quality Report, which shows that the water provided by MMWD continues to meet or surpass all state and federal health regulations. The report summarizes the results of thousands of water quality analyses conducted by MMWD from January-December 2013.

The report is available on our website at marinwater.org/2014AWQR. Printed copies of the report can be requested by calling the district’s Water Quality Lab at 415-945-1550.

MMWD takes numerous steps to ensure that the drinking water we deliver to customers is of high quality, from managing and protecting our watershed lands, to employing proven treatment methods, to vigilant monitoring. Each year MMWD conducts more than 120,000 water quality tests from watershed to faucet, including process control testing at the treatment plants as well as laboratory testing.

MMWD reports the water quality information annually in compliance with requirements established by the California Department of Public Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The state and federal regulations require drinking water suppliers to test for 125 contaminants and to include in the report the test results for any contaminants found and at what levels. This past year we also tested for an additional 28 unregulated compounds as part of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program administered by the EPA.

MMWD provides high-quality drinking water to 186,000 customers in central and southern Marin County. About 75 percent of our water supply comes from rainfall collected in seven reservoirs on Mt. Tamalpais and in west Marin. The remaining 25 percent is imported under a contract with the Sonoma County Water Agency.

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The rainfall year ends on June 30 and in all likelihood we will not receive much, if any, additional rain in the remaining few days. Total rainfall at Lake Lagunitas for the rainfall year ending June 30 will top out at around 33.40 inches, which is about 64% of the annual average. This marks the third consecutive year of below average rainfall, and the reservoir storage levels reflect those low numbers.

The current reservoir storage is the lowest it has been for this date since the early 1990s. If not for the ongoing conservation efforts of our customers, and the especially heavy rain in February, we would be in a far worse position than we are today.

The MMWD Board of Directors’ call for 25% voluntary rationing is still in place and current consumption figures show reduced water use. We appreciate everyone’s conservation efforts and we encourage customers to take advantage of the district’s many conservation programs and rebates. Get more information here.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of June 22, reservoir storage is 60,533 acre-feet,* or 76% of capacity. The average for this date is 67,290 acre-feet, or 85% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-June 22) is 33.40 inches. Average for the same period is 52.56 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of June 16-22 averaged 28.78 million gallons per day, compared to 32.27 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of May 2014, MMWD released 218 million gallons, or a total of 669 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.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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Mayor Gary Phillips of San Rafael

Mayor Gary Phillips accepted the award on behalf of the City of San Rafael. See more photos from the recognition event.

At the May 20 Board of Directors meeting, MMWD launched a new conservation recognition program, “Water-Saving Heroes,” to acknowledge customers who are significantly reducing their water use and inspiring others to do the same. When the board requested a 25% voluntary water use reduction in January, these customers immediately rose to the challenge.

We’re looking for more water-saving heroes to recognize at future board meetings. If you know a water-saving hero—or if you are one—let us know!

Congratulations to the following customers who were recognized on May 20:

RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS

Nancy and Mike Duran, San Rafael

  • For the February to April time period, the Duran family reduced their water use from 12,716 gallons in 2013 to 6,732 this year—almost a 50% reduction!
  • Accomplished these savings by cutting back on unnecessary water use and capturing rainwater for their garden
  • Inspired others by tweeting about their success

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Mayor Gary Phillips, City of San Rafael
To conserve water during the drought, the City of San Rafael:

  • Eliminated or reduced to a bare minimum irrigation of turf areas in city parks and sports fields and in most landscaped areas
  • Installed high-efficiency faucets, showerheads, and toilets to replace inefficient models in city facilities
  • Minimized washing of city fleet vehicles
  • Posted conservation signs above kitchen and bathroom sinks, and reminded city employees to minimize shower times and run only full dishwasher loads at city facilities

Chief Jason Weber, Marin County Fire Department
Marin County Fire took these steps to conserve water:

  • During training exercises, flowed water at bare minimum amounts and only when absolutely necessary
  • Minimized washing of fire trucks, while still keeping equipment clean and shiny through daily wiping down with chamois cloths
  • Deferred fire hydrant and hose testing where possible, and conducted required tests so as to limit water loss
  • Asked all fire personnel to reduce water use 25% by minimizing shower times, washing only full loads of clothes and dishes, watering landscaping only as needed, and repairing leaks at fire facilities

BUSINESSES

Michael Cronin, Operations Manager, EO Products, San Rafael

  • For their new facility in San Rafael, EO Products converted the water cooling system for their manufacturing process from an open system to a closed system, allowing the company to recirculate the water and save thousands of gallons.
  • Also installed faucet aerators and upgraded all their toilets to high-efficiency models

Lynn Langford, CEO, Lean Green Solutions

  • Created “Neighbor 2 Neighbor” drought event for Ross Valley residents at the Marin Art & Garden Center
  • Helped found the Marin Edible Garden and coordinate the Ross Valley Garden Tour, including partnering with MMWD to provide water-wise gardening information to tour participants

SCHOOLS

Mike Grant, Facilities Director, Marin County Office of Education

  • Arranged for MMWD Conservation Manager Dan Carney to give a presentation for all Marin County Schools’ maintenance directors to help strengthen conservation efforts in our schools

Ted Stoeckley, Science Specialist, Larkspur-Corte Madera School District

  • Contacted MMWD to request 500 of our conservation “cling sticks” to distribute to his students in 19 classrooms at Neil Cummins Elementary and Hall Middle School, who in turn took the conservation message home to their families

Parents Marnie Glickman and Sommer Au-Yeung, Science Teacher Pete Hudson, and Students of the Lower Elementary Class, Marin Montessori School, Corte Madera

  • Collaborated on developing a program at Marin Montessori School to teach students about our water system and about the drought
  • Coordinated a water conservation presentation and led students through a brainstorming session on conserving water
  • Students took home aerators, toilet leak test tablets, a sticker, and conservation information in a bucket—perfect for capturing and reusing shower warm-up water.
  • Parents reported that all the kids came home excited and made their parents test the toilet, install the aerator, and put the sticker on the fridge.

 

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Record low rainfall in 2013 means the official “water year” designation for Lagunitas Creek in west Marin will be “dry” from April through October 2014 in accordance with MMWD’s water rights order from the State of California for the creek. This designation was made because there was less than 28 inches of rainfall at Kent Lake from October 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. Average for that six-month period is 45.5 inches.

This year marks the first time a dry year has been in effect since the water rights order was issued in 1995. The in-stream flow requirements (water released from Kent Lake into Lagunitas Creek) applicable during “dry years” are slightly lower than the requirements for “normal years” and are designed to keep fish in good condition while preserving our water supply. The flow rate will be reconsidered in December 2014 depending on rainfall between now and then.

MMWD releases water from Kent Lake into Lagunitas Creek throughout the year to maintain adequate flows for fish.

MMWD has also reduced releases into Walker Creek from Soulajule Reservoir this spring.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of May 25, reservoir storage is 63,306 acre-feet,* or 80% of capacity. The average for this date is 70,259 acre-feet, or 88% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-May 25) is 33.40 inches. Average for the same period is 51.90 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of May 19-25 averaged 26.95 million gallons per day, compared to 30.69 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Supply source: Last week we averaged 18.04 million gallons per day from our reservoirs and 8.91 million gallons per day from the Russian River.

Creek Releases: During the month of April 2014 MMWD released 196 million gallons, or a total of 601 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin.

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

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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Although rainfall this year is just 66% of average, we received sufficient amounts of rain in February and March to raise reservoir levels to near-normal levels. And we even got a half inch of rain in late April as a bonus.

As we enter the irrigation season, MMWD’s water supply situation is much better than that of many parts of California. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions throughout the state range from moderate to exceptional drought. These conditions are quite evident in the dramatic photos of reservoirs and the Sierra snow pack on the home page of the California drought information website.

MMWD’s request for a 25% voluntary reduction in water use is still in effect, although the Board of Directors will review this request at the end of May.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of April 27, reservoir storage is 65,213 acre-feet,* or 82% of capacity. The average for this date is 72,152 acre-feet, or 91% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-April 27) is 33.22 inches. Average for the same period is 50.20 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of April 21-27 averaged 20 million gallons per day, compared to 27 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of March 2014 MMWD released 303 million gallons, or a total of 930 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin.

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

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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