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Posts Tagged ‘recycled water’

by Dan Carney, Water Conservation Manager

Small grass area for children's play yard

Children’s play yard (photo and design by Michelle Derviss)

If you are looking for an ideal landscape area to have a picnic, play games with your kids, or rough and tumble with the family dog, a lawn may be a good choice.

When properly cared for, lawns have many environmental benefits: They clean and cool the air, filter storm water, produce oxygen, and require much less water than you might think—lawns are commonly overwatered by as much as five-times! As a rule of thumb, unless it’s the middle of summer and the lawn is in full sun all day long, a healthy lawn only needs to be watered one day per week if it’s not raining. If it needs more, chances are your lawn needs some help.

Common environmental problems with lawns occur when people overwater, use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, do not compost clippings, mow too often, and have a larger lawn than they actually use. This article focuses on the essential things you need to know in order to successfully grow healthy lawn grass in an environmentally responsible, Marin-friendly manner.

But first, ask yourself this question: Do you really need a traditional lawn at all? If your answer is no, then please consider planting a no-mow meadow of native grasses, low-water groundcover, or other drought-adapted plants. Even when perfectly maintained, lawns require more water than any other landscape plant and are best reserved for landscape areas where they will be actively used rather than just a pretty green surface to look at. If you have a lawn area you want to convert into a low-water using garden, check out this video to learn how to sheet mulch. Then, browse our conservation coupons to find discounts on mulch and other supplies from local retailers.

If you still choose to have a lawn on your property, here are the basics of Marin-friendly lawn care:

  • Incorporate a generous amount of organic compost into the soil (1-2 cubic yards per 100 square feet).
  • Select a drought-tolerant grass species.
  • Apply enough organic fertilizer to maintain plant health but not to stimulate fast growth.
  • Irrigate with a high-efficiency irrigation system, and adjust watering times frequently to match seasonal plant demand. Never water between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., the time when 97% of evapotranspiration occurs.
  • Mow infrequently, use a manual or electric mower, leave the grass blades 2-4 inches tall, and compost the clippings.
  • Use graywater, rainwater, or recycled water whenever it is available.

By following these basic steps, you will be training your lawn grass to develop a deep and extensive root system—the key to growing a drought-tolerant lawn with the most environmental benefits and the fewest problems. MMWD offers a number of free services to help you make your landscape Marin-friendly. Visit our Conservation page today to schedule a free water use survey through our Conservation Assistance Program (CAP), sign up for a Marin Master Gardener Garden Walk, and take advantage of great rebate offers for smart irrigation controllers. And, be sure to sign up for MMWD’s Weekly Watering Schedule to get updated watering information for your climate zone delivered to your email box each week.

 

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Alpine Reservoir

Alpine Reservoir on October 24 by MMWD Ranger John McConneloug

October began without any rain and apparently the month will end that way, too. Let’s hope November brings rainy weather. While our reservoir levels are almost normal for this time of year, at 62 percent of capacity there is plenty of space to capture water. (See current photos of the reservoirs on our Facebook page)

In response to the record-dry spring of 2013 and to preserve our reservoir levels to the degree possible, we made the following changes to our normal water operations this year:

  • We carefully balanced the use of imported Russian River water with our reservoir water supply, importing more Russian River water than is typical in the summer months;
  • We used more water from Nicasio Reservoir in West Marin, allowing us to save more water in our reservoirs on Mt. Tamalpais;
  • We turned on our recycled water plant earlier in the spring than usual to reduce demand on our potable water supply.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels:  As of October 27, reservoir storage is 50,366 acre-feet,* or 63 percent of capacity. The average for this date is 51,728 acre-feet, or 65 percent of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-October 27) is 1.16 inches. Average for the same period is 3.12 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week ending October 27 averaged 26.5 million gallons per day, compared to 20.5 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Supply Source: Last week we averaged 21.1 million gallons per day from our reservoirs and 5.4 million gallons per day from the Russian River.

Creek Releases: During the month of September 2013 MMWD released 266 million gallons, or a total of 817 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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Marin Center turned 40 this year, but being “middle-aged” hasn’t stopped the arts and events venue from keeping up with the latest water-efficiency trends and technologies.

The Marin County Fairgrounds are irrigated with recycled water from MMWD’s Las Gallinas Valley Recycling Plant, saving potable water. Three smart controllers monitor current weather conditions and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule so the landscaping gets just what it needs. In addition, staff keep the irrigation system in good working order and employ water-wise landscaping techniques such as sheet mulching.

Marin Center is saving water indoors, too. The restrooms at Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Lagoon Park use recycled water for toilet flushing. And Marin Center has even gone water-free with 23 waterless urinals, saving up to 920,000 gallons per year.

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Funding to Pay for Conservation, Recycling, Habitat Restoration and More

The San Francisco Bay Area has been awarded $30,093,592 in Proposition 84 funds to carry out projects to improve Bay Area water resources. This award complements $842,556 in planning funds from Proposition 84 to update the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.

Proposition 84, passed by voters in 2006, provides $5.4 billion for habitat restoration, water resources improvements and water quality benefits. Of this total, integrated regional water management (IRWM) programs in California will receive $1.0 billion in funding, of which $138 million is dedicated to the San Francisco Bay Area. The $30.9 million in implementation and planning funding announced this past week is the first allocation of the $138 million of Proposition 84 IRWM funds for the Bay Area.

“Proposition 84 funds make possible high-priority water resources management projects in the Bay Area,” noted Paul Helliker, General Manager of the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and current Chair of the Bay Area Coordinating Committee. The Committee is the regional oversight group for IRWM programs in the Bay Area, composed of representatives of water supply, wastewater treatment, and flood control agencies and environmental regulatory, resource management and non-governmental organizations. Helliker added, “Over the next 20 years, water resources management agencies are planning tens of billions of dollars of investments in infrastructure and ecosystem improvements, and these state grant funds fill important niches.”

Integrated Management Plans

The Bay Area IRWM Coordinating Committee has received $842,556 to revise the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. The IRWM Plan was adopted in 2006 by Bay Area counties, cities, water and sanitation districts, flood control agencies and non-profit agencies to define priorities for regional water management projects and guide state grant funding decisions. The plan update, expected to be completed in 2013, will incorporate the latest information on climate change impacts, and will include a compilation of best practices to adapt to rising sea levels and changes in precipitation. The Marin Municipal Water District will be managing the plan update, on behalf of the Coordinating Committee.

Implementation Projects

$30,093,592 of the Proposition 84 funding announced last week will be dedicated to various water resources projects that were proposed for funding in January of 2011 by the Coordinating Committee. The Bay Area Clean Water Agencies (BACWA), a joint powers partnership among wastewater management agencies in the Bay Area, and a principal partner in the Bay Area Coordinating Committee, will manage this grant. The funding will be used for the following programs and projects:

Project

Total Cost

Prop. 84 Grant Funding

Water Conservation

   

Regional Water Conservation Program

15,359,557

8,952,685

Water Recycling

   

* North Bay

   

Marin Municipal WD Peacock Gap Recycled Water Extension

10,136,000

500,000

Las Gallinas Valley SD Novato South Service Area Project

11,631,000

500,000

North Marin WD Novato North Service Area Project

11,392,000

500,000

Sonoma Valley CSD Recycled Water Stage 1 Project

5,000,000

500,000

Napa SD State Hospital Pipeline Construction Stage 1 Project

3,057,000

500,000

* East Bay

   

EBMUD East Bayshore Phase 1A-I-80

2,186,000

741,000

CCCSD Concord Recycled Water Project

4,200,000

1,030,000

DSRSD Central Dublin Recycled Water Distribution and Retrofit Project

4,100,000

1,130,000

* South Bay

   

South Bay Water Recycling Industrial Expansion and Reliability

5,503,000

2,485,000

* West Bay

   

San Francisco PUC Harding Park Recycled Water Project

8,436,000

2,114,000

Wetland Ecosystem Restoration Projects

   

Sears Point Restoration

18,306,981

1,250,000

Bair Island Restoration

3,185,375

1,250,000

Pond A16/17 Restoration

9,300,000

1,250,000

Regional Green Infrastructure Program

   

San Pablo Avenue Green Infrastructure Spine

4,220,882

2,315,882

Hacienda Avenue Green Street Improvements

4,632,556

1,999,999

Napa Valley Rainwater Harvesting

328,335

250,000

Water Quality Improvement/Flood Management/Ecosystem Restoration in Disadvantaged Communities

   

Stream Restoration in the North Bay

265,000

200,000

Floodplain Mapping for Disadvantaged Communities

841,550

656,550

Stormwater and Flood Control Improvements Pilot Project in Bay Point

185,000

160,000

Richmond Shoreline and San Pablo Flood Control

315,000

85,000

Pescadero Creek Flood Reduction and Habitat Improvement

103,000

103,000

Pescadero Creek Steelhead Monitoring

154,810

119,310

Floodplain and Watershed Restoration in East Palo Alto

310,800

230,000

Steelhead and Coho Indicator Monitoring

503,166

378,166

Watershed Partnership Technical Assistance

203,289

150,000

Program Administration

843,000

743,000

Total

$124,699,301

$30,093,592

Other Proposition 84 Funding for Bay Area Projects

Also allocated from the Bay Area Proposition 84 funds is $1,775,000 to pay for two other Bay Area projects in eastern Contra Costa County—the Pittsburgh Recycled Water Pipeline and ecosystem restoration projects that are part of the County’s Habitat Conservation Program. These funds, as well as $449,843 to update the East Contra Costa County plan, will be managed by the Contra Costa Water District.

The total amount allocated to date from the $138 million in Proposition 84 IRWM for Bay Area projects is $33,160,991.

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MMWD awarded $1.36 million for water recycling and conservation

The North Bay has been awarded more than $7 million in integrated regional water management (IRWM) funds under State Proposition 84. This funding is a part of the overall $33.2 million that has been allocated to Bay Area agencies from the $138 million available for the Bay Area in State Proposition 84.

Proposition 84, passed by voters in 2006, provides $5.4 billion for habitat restoration, water resources improvements and water quality benefits. Of this total, integrated regional water management (IRWM) programs in California will receive $1 billion in funding, of which $138 million is dedicated to the San Francisco Bay Area. The $33.2 million in implementation and planning funding announced today is the first allocation of the $138 million of Proposition 84 IRWM funds for the Bay Area.

“North Bay water resources managers have been collaborating for many years to define the top priorities for ecosystem restoration and water resources improvements,” noted John C. (Jack) Gibson, President of the Board of Directors of the Marin Municipal Water District Board and Chairman of the North Bay Watershed Association, a group of 16 regional and local public agencies. “We are very pleased that North Bay partners have been successful in securing these grant funds, which will provide critical support for priority projects,” Gibson added.

The $7-plus million for the North Bay will support the following programs:

  • Water conservation rebate and education programs in Solano, Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties;
  • Five recycled water projects in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties;
  • Restoration of wetlands at Sears Point;
  • Rainwater harvesting pilot projects in Napa;
  • Stream restoration work in the North Bay;
  • Regional projects on flood plain mapping, steelhead trout monitoring and watershed partnerships that will include North Bay organizations.

Marin Municipal Water District Projects

As part of the funding announced today, $500,000 in Prop. 84 funds will go to the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), to assist in financing an expansion of MMWD’s recycled water system. The addition to the system includes a new pipeline to bring water to the Peacock Gap Golf Course in San Rafael and to other customers along the way. The total cost of the system expansion is estimated to be $10.1 million, with funding to be provided from various sources. MMWD’s recycled water system, operating since 1981, serves more than 350 customers in San Rafael, including parks and other large landscapes, office buildings, car washes, commercial laundries and many others.

An additional $862,500 in Prop. 84 funds will go to MMWD to provide matching funds for water conservation program rebates. These funds will offset some of the cost of high-efficiency toilets and washing machines, as well as weather-based irrigation controllers and water efficient landscaping.

“MMWD continues to diversify its portfolio of sustainable water supply strategies,” said MMWD General Manager Paul Helliker. “This round of funding from Prop. 84 will help us reduce the demand on our reservoirs and on the supplies we purchase from the Sonoma County Water Agency.”

Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

The Bay Area received $842,556 to revise the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. The IRWM Plan was adopted in 2006 by Bay Area counties, cities, water and sanitation districts, flood control agencies and non-profit agencies to define priorities for regional water management projects and guide state grant funding decisions. The plan update, expected to be completed in 2013, will incorporate the latest information on climate change impacts and will include a compilation of best practices to adapt to rising sea levels and changes in precipitation. The Marin Municipal Water District will be managing the plan update, on behalf of the Coordinating Committee.

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recycled water meterProviding recycled water to MMWD customers—350 and counting in northern San Rafael—requires a separate water treatment and distribution system to ensure there are no cross-connections with potable water—that is, recycled water doesn’t mix with drinking water. This separate distribution system is made up of 25 miles of pipeline, three storage tanks, four pump stations and one treatment plant. Although it is an expensive system to build and maintain, it helps reduce demand on potable water.

The majority of our recycled water customers use the water for irrigation, and about 100 customers have dual-plumbing that allows them to use the water for other uses such as toilet flushing, washing laundry and cars, and air conditioning.

Each November and December MMWD’s Reclamation Specialists Pat Feht and Rich Caboara inspect the approximately 100 dual-plumbed facilities to make sure that each is functioning properly and labeled correctly. (See photos from this year’s inspections here.) The labeling requirements for recycled water are very stringent. For example, all meters and meter boxes must be painted purple; all pipes delivering recycled water must be identified with purple Mylar tape printed with the words “Caution: Reclaimed Water. Do Not Drink”; and all valve handles must have intact breakaway seals. Special signage is also required. Any facility using recycled water must post signs at the business entrance and at the location where the recycled water is used, such as within a bathroom where the toilets are flushed with recycled water or a laundry room where recycled water is used.

In addition to conducting these annual inspections, Pat and Rich take water samples weekly throughout the year to assure that our recycled water meets strict water quality criteria. Our recycled water is treated three times before distribution and is crystal clear, odorless and free of harmful bacteria. It is similar in quality to swimming pool water.

MMWD has been at the forefront of providing recycled water and creating and supporting legislation to promote its use. We continue to explore non-agricultural uses for recycled water, just as we continue to promote conservation of potable water.

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North Bay Watershed AssociationThe North Bay Watershed Association’s 2010 Conference, “Greening Our Water Infrastructure,” is just around the corner on Friday, April 9, 2010 at the Sheraton Petaluma from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Don’t delay—register today!

Conference highlights include:

  • Keynote presentations by California State Assembly member Jared Huffman and Vice Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board Frances Spivy-Weber
  • Panel discussions on watersheds and new developments in water recycling, water supply, and green infrastructure
  • Wine tasting hosted by Benziger Family Winery

Please see the flyer for more information:
http://marinwater.org/documents/NBWA_2010_Conf_Flyer.pdf

To register for the conference, please click this link:
https://www.acteva.com/go/nbwa2010

We look forward to seeing you there!

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