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MMWD’s water production for the period February-June 2014 was 15% lower than production for the same period in 2013. Many thanks are due to district customers for quickly heeding the MMWD Board of Directors’ January 21 call for voluntary reductions in water use. The board took that action just days after Governor Jerry Brown requested statewide voluntary reductions in water use.

The 2013-14 rainfall year ended on June 30 with a total of 33.4 inches, which is approximately 64% of the long-term annual average. By contrast, total reservoir storage at the end of the 2013-14 rainfall year was 90% of average. The near-normal storage levels are due to unusually high rainfall in February, customer conservation efforts, and higher Russian River water deliveries.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of July 22, reservoir storage is 57,524 acre-feet,* or 72.3% of capacity. The average for this date is 63,144 acre-feet, or 79.36% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this year to date (July 1-July 22) is 0.03 inches. Average for the same period is 0.04 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of June 14-20 averaged 28.29 million gallons per day, compared to 31.38 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Supply Source: Last week we averaged 20.76 million gallons per day from our reservoirs and 7.53 million gallons per day from the Russian River.

Creek Releases: During the month of June 2014 MMWD released 200 million gallons, or a total of 614 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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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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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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by Charlene Burgi

Agastache after a long winter

Agastache after a long winter

This week many of us will remember and celebrate one of two ancient holidays: Passover and Easter. There are many processes found in gardening that remind me of both of these holidays and their origins. Who would guess life and beauty would be realized from the bondage of harsh living conditions, as many plants don’t begin to bloom until they are root bound? Or that it would take scarifying certain hard-coated waxy seeds to create new life? How about seeds or bulbs lying in a bed of cold, dark soil that bring the miracle of flowers, or the protection that is offered to our plants when we cover their roots with mulch?

When we garden, we have faith that the steps we take will reward us with a bounty of fruits, vegetables, or masses of colorful flowers. Sometimes our faith waivers. This winter when the temperatures in Lassen County dropped to 21 below zero, I feared the newly planted Santa Rosa plum tree would not live through that freezing snow. Imagine the joy I experienced this spring when the tree not only survived, but produced an abundance of flowers and potential fruit yet to come!

Despite our best intentions we sometimes make mistakes, but find plants are forgiving of our errors. A great example of this occurred just this past week. I was too busy to check on the greenhouse for three days in a row and too busy to notice that outdoor temperatures were rising. By the time I went into the greenhouse, I found the trapped interior heat had caused many of the potted plants to wither. Fortunately the wilted vegetables that I had planted in the ground sprung right back up with a good soaking!

Gardeners’ faith is affirmed as they experience the fruits of their labors. We recognize our decisions will bring future rewards or we wouldn’t find ourselves tilling the soil, weeding, feeding, mulching, planting, pruning, mowing, and hoeing when we could be finding other activities to entertain ourselves. Some call our drive passion or love. The rewards are too rich to walk away from the garden.

The jewels from our gardens are also enjoyed by those with whom we share our bounty—whether it be tomatoes, bouquets of flowers, or creative ideas. For example, this week a few of our readers shared some great ideas about their seed-planting strategies and the staking of tree roses. Frank suggested an idea to avoid struggling with wet toilet paper when making seed strips as I described in last week’s blog. He creates a paste of flour and water, then uses a toothpick to transport the paste onto a seed and the seed onto dry toilet paper. After allowing the paste to dry, he plants the seeded toilet paper strip at the proper depth.

In the past Nancy struggled with commercial seed starters that failed to support the weight of her bottle gourd seedlings. She happened onto large biodegradable drinking cups that are sturdy enough for starting the seedlings indoors before moving them outside. Transplant shock is eliminated since she plants the entire cup, knowing the cup will break down in the soil.

Emerging peonies

Emerging peonies

Scott suggested staking tall plants by triangulating three tall concrete form stakes and connecting the stakes together using copper fittings and copper pipe—a very classy construction that I might use for the peonies that spring is resurrecting from their winter dormancy right now.

Now is a time of new beginnings in the garden. Enjoy the blessings this season brings and have a very special weekend.

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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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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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mmwd_holiday_card

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Marin Municipal Water District, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to you, our customers, for the opportunity to provide you with drinking water. We are proud to be a vital member of the community and to partner with you in managing our natural resources.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

Best regards,
Krishnas_signature

Krishna Kumar
General Manager
Marin Municipal Water District

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by Robin McKillop

shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer

Checking out high-efficiency clothes washers at a local retailer

Since the late 1990s, more than 16,000 high-efficiency clothes washers have been installed in MMWD’s service area through our rebate programs. That’s a lot of laundry—and significant water and energy savings, especially since standards for high-efficiency washers have increased steadily over the years. Years ago, a clothes washer was considered efficient if it used 30 gallons per load. These days, to qualify as a Consortium for Energy Efficiency “Tier 3” model, a high-efficiency clothes washer must use 12 gallons or less. Some new washers use as little as seven gallons per load!

Not only do high-efficiency washers save water and energy, they also tend to be popular with our customers. Survey results from hundreds of our customers indicate that at least 90 percent would recommend their high-efficiency washer to a friend. With the success of our past programs, we’re delighted to bring back our popular clothes washer rebates—along with high-efficiency toilet and smart irrigation controller rebates, too! For complete details visit marinwater.org/rebates.

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Some of you may remember the ad campaign from 1971 of the Native American actor tearing up by the side of the road as people threw trash out of their cars. Unfortunately, the problem of littering persists and not just on our roads; even the trails and reservoirs of Marin get littered with food wrappers, plastic beverage containers, tissue, fishing line and bagged pet waste. The tagline of the 1971 ad was “Get Involved Now. Pollution Hurts All of Us.”

Michael Miller

Retired accountant Michael Miller regularly cleans 50 to 60 miles of Marin trails and roads.

San Anselmo resident Michael Miller has taken this motto to heart. He’s been picking up litter all his life and took on the Mt. Tam Watershed and other sites in Marin in earnest after he retired in 2012. He spends about 20 hours a month cleaning the roads and parking lots along Sky Oaks Road and the Lake Lagunitas picnic area and an additional 20 hours a month on trails. He says the most littered natural area on the watershed is Natalie Coffin Greene Park in Ross and the roads around Phoenix Lake.

Michael also spends a lot of time cleaning litter from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from the bottom of White’s Hill through Lagunitas because it’s also a heavily littered area and as a San Geronimo Valley resident for 25 years he still considers it a special place.

His work was recently featured in the West Marin Citizen in an interview by Larken Bradley, who saw Michael cleaning trash by the side of the road. When asked what sorts of reactions he gets, he said “Motorists, hikers, bicyclists, fishermen, MMWD folks and sheriff’s deputies who patrol MMWD land always say thank you. I appreciate those words a lot.”

We’d like to acknowledge Michael’s volunteer work as well. His efforts are greatly appreciated and we admire his fortitude and commitment to keeping the watershed litter free. Better still, it would be great if there was no litter for Michael to pick up, so we encourage all visitors to set a good example and be responsible for your own trash.

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If you haven’t visited our offices at 220 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera in a while, you may notice some big changes next time you drop by.

cast iron pipe fitting at MMWD front entrance

The cast iron pipe fitting at MMWD’s front entrance

First, in spring 2012 we completed construction on a project to improve accessibility to the building by reconfiguring parking and sidewalks to the main entrance and board room. We also installed new landscaping, including a giant double “Y” cast iron pipe fitting dating to 1921 that now functions as a planter next to our front door.

Then, this past fall we completed a remodel of the Customer Service lobby, including installing a new accessible counter. Some of the wood used in the construction was recycled from one of the district’s retired redwood water tanks.

You don’t have to be paying a bill to pay us a visit. The lobby is open 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Browse our free literature, check out a diorama of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, and help yourself to a few dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks. If you’re looking for water-wise gardening ideas, be sure to check out the new flower beds out front and the Water Conservation Garden across the driveway from our main entrance.

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