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Posts Tagged ‘water quality’

This is the second in a series of posts by MMWD’s interns, summer helpers, and watershed aides about their experiences at the district. Read the previous post here.

by Lauren Valenti, Water Treatment Intern

When I was young I knew I wanted to become a scientist. I pictured myself wearing a lab coat and figuring out how stuffed worked and why. I am very proud to be doing just that—specifically studying water treatment and quality. I got my degree from Sonoma State University with a concentration in Water Quality and Hazardous Waste Management. When I found out I would become one of the first interns to work at one of Marin Municipal Water District’s water treatment plants, I was elated to start working.

I was placed at the Bon Tempe Water Treatment Plant located on Mt. Tamalpais. Bon Tempe is an amazing facility; Lake Bon Tempe is our main source of water. Water flows to our plant and through it by gravity alone. This facility can act as an emergency relief plant serving Marin County because it can produce water directly to the public with very little to no power at all.

I was treated just like a normal trainee while accompanying operators to monitor chemical feeding and water quality tests in our own lab at the plant. It might not sound hard, but when put on a four-hour schedule of rounds, lab work, calculations, chemical deliveries, washing filters, filling out paperwork, and constantly monitoring multiple computer screens, one’s day and/or night can become demanding. Yes, nights too! The plant is always running—24 hours a day, seven days a week, including all holidays.

The experience overall has been invaluable for me. As a district MMWD sets high standards that surpass many federal and state regulations. This is an outstanding achievement when numerous different departments and many individuals are relentlessly working as one. I have been privileged to work with many other men and women who exhibit an overwhelming sense of professionalism in a field that I truly care about and see a future for myself in, thanks to MMWD.

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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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by Matthew Warner

This post is the ninth in a year-long series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Read the previous post here.

For decades San Francisco Bay’s marshlands were viewed as a waste of space, so they were drained and filled in for development. However, we’ve come to learn that our tidal marshlands serve a number of important functions: They help prevent flooding by their ability to adapt to the rise and fall of water. They help keep our waterways clean by filtering pollutants. And they provide critical habitat for a number of critters.

If you are ever in the neighborhood of Larkspur and have time to take a stroll by Corte Madera Creek, you just might hear or see a clapper … no, not the part of a bell or the sound-activated switch as seen on TV (“Clap on, clap off”), but the California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus).

California clapper rail

California clapper rail (Photo by Don Roberson/Public Domain)

The California clapper rail is listed as an endangered species. One reason their numbers are in sharp decline is the loss of habitat due to the diking that converted low-lying marshland into urban development. Another factor leading to their sharp decline is the predation of eggs by non-native foxes and rats. As adults, they have to keep a sharp eye on the sky as they are hunted by red-tailed hawks, northern harriers and peregrine falcons. It would have been “Clapp off” for the clapper rail if it wasn’t for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which made a recovery plan in 1984 and is aiding in the recovery of the bird’s population.

Clapper rails nest close to the water’s edge and enjoy feasting on spiders, yellow and striped shore crabs, amphipods and the introduced non-native horse mussel. When you are out walking the creek you can thank the California clapper rail for taking out the horse mussel from our waterways! Feel free to watch and take pictures, but remember to keep a reasonable distance away from the birds so as not to disturb them.

The California clapper rail is yet another reason among many for us to support efforts to keep our salt waterways clean and to restore our tidal marshlands, which help prevent flooding and purify our water. Happy observing and “Clapp on” for the California clapper rail!

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by Robin McKillop

Believe it or not, the school year has already started in many areas throughout Marin—and that means it’s time to roll out another exciting year of MMWD’s water education programs. If you’re a busy teacher, be sure to reserve your place today. If you’re a busy parent, remember to encourage your child’s teacher to participate in MMWD’s water education programs. They’re fun! They’re free! They’re educational!

Mt. Tamalpais Watershed field tripLast year, MMWD’s Water Wonders environmental education programs provided outreach to thousands of students at public and private schools in Marin. Through MMWD’s programs, students learned all about water—from source to supply to conservation. Many students had the chance to reinforce classroom concepts by visiting our beautiful watershed lands and participating in restoration and conservation activities. High school students were also invited to visit MMWD’s Water Quality Laboratory where they learned about current drinking water regulations, analyses and instrumentation, as well as the specifics of water quality here in MMWD’s service area. Elementary school students continued to learn about the importance of clean water and fish habitat by hatching and releasing trout through the “Trout in the Classroom” program, offered in partnership with North Bay Trout Unlimited, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project.

The Water Wonders brochure provides detailed information about all of our programs. This year, we are excited to introduce some new educational opportunities while continuing to offer long-term favorites. Hot off the press is our “Marin Municipal Water District” poster—a great addition to any classroom, providing a fun and informative overview of MMWD’s watershed, reservoirs and treatment plants, as well as the people, plants and animals who share our water supply. Be sure to order your free copy today. Also new this year is our expanded school bus reimbursement program. Now, all schools that book an MMWD-guided field trip to the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed can apply for a reimbursement for travel costs. A limited number of reimbursements, up to $500, are available on a first-come, first-served basis—so book your field trip today! Finally, don’t miss out on our exciting new classroom presentation, “The History of MMWD and Preservation of Mt. Tamalpais,” given by Jack Gibson, author of Images of America: Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District. This presentation can be tailored to the needs of your students and is a great way to enhance your students’ understanding of local history and the rich tradition of environmental protection in Marin.

Programs are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly. All programs are offered free of charge and are designed to support California education standards while fostering water conservation and environmental stewardship. Bilingual (English-Spanish) classroom presentations and assemblies are available. We hope you will join us this school year in educating Marin’s students all about water. Jump in and make your reservation today! Click here for contact information.

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Marin Municipal Water District Annual Water Quality Report 2013The Marin Municipal Water District has released its 2013 Annual Water Quality Report, which shows, once again, that the water provided by MMWD meets—and in fact surpasses—all state and federal health regulations.

The 2013 report is available both in English and in Spanish on our website. Printed copies of the report can be requested by calling the 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 over 120,000 water quality tests from watershed to faucet.

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.

MMWD reports the water quality information annually in compliance with requirements established by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 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. The regulations encompass both primary standards for contaminants that affect health and secondary standards for contaminants that affect the odor, taste and appearance of the water.

In the past, we mailed the full water quality report to approximately 110,000 Marin residents and businesses. Beginning this year, new regulations permit MMWD to distribute the report electronically, which will help the district save postage and printing costs and reduce our impact on the environment by using less paper.

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Big Trees Footbridge

Completed bridge over Little Carson Creek. For more pictures, see our Facebook album.

Over a three-week period in February, crews from MMWD’s Watershed Maintenance staff and Conservation Corps North Bay built a beautiful log footbridge over Little Carson Creek on the east side of Kent Lake. The new bridge, located at the foot of Little Carson Trail in an area called Big Trees Grove, was built to keep foot traffic out of the creek. It is part of a larger project designed to improve water quality and fisheries habitat while creating a safer and more sustainable hiking trail. Other future elements of the project include converting a 100-year-old logging road to a trail and removing two culverts to minimize road-related sediment delivery to Little Carson Creek and Kent Lake.

The base and footings of the footbridge were made from a large, 48-inch diameter, 50-foot long redwood tree that had fallen many years ago near the work site. Based on the tree’s rings, MMWD Watershed Maintenance Supervisor Carl Sanders estimated its age at over 300 years old when it fell. Using ropes and cables, the crews were able to drag the tree 200 feet upstream without damaging the stream and its banks.

The handrails, made from a smaller redwood tree, are attached to the log base by mortise and tenon joinery. The completed bridge enhances the natural beauty of the grove and allows hikers to cross the stream safely without damaging the stream and its banks.

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Water main flushing

An MMWD employee “flushes” a water main by releasing high velocity water from a hydrant.

MMWD’s annual water main flushing program to help maintain water quality gets underway today, January 9, in Fairfax. The 2013 program also includes the San Geronimo Valley, San Anselmo and Ross. Flushing will occur most Wednesdays through March 13 between approximately 8:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Water main flushing is recommended by the California Department of Public Health to remove sediment buildup in transmission and distribution pipelines because the sediment can impair water quality.

Each year MMWD “flushes” approximately 20 percent of its water mains. To flush a water main, selected hydrants along a section of the main are opened. The high velocity of the released water scours the main, removing any collected sediment. After the chloramine is removed by dechlorination tablets, the water is released onto the street and enters the storm drain system. Flushing averages about 15 minutes for each hydrant.

In the past, MMWD performed flushing at night to minimize the impact on residents. In 2011 the district began flushing the pipes during the day to save the overtime costs of sending crews out at night. This year the district will again be flushing the mains in the daytime to reduce costs without compromising water quality.

In addition to water in the street, during flushing customers may notice effects on their own plumbing, including slight pressure drops, air in the lines or “dirty” water. If you notice these effects, we recommend restricting water use during flushing and then running the cold water for a short time afterward to remove any loosened sediment in the pipeline. Be assured the temporary discoloration is not a health concern.

2013 Water Main Flushing Schedule

January 9: Western Fairfax

January 16: Southeastern Fairfax; San Geronimo Valley Floor (Lagunitas/Forrest Knolls); Upper Woodacre

January 30: Town of Woodacre; Cascade and Scenic areas of Fairfax; Oak Avenue in San Anselmo

February 6: Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from Butterfield to “the Hub”

February 13: The Alameda, Oak Springs and Fawn Drive in San Anselmo; Sky Oaks area of Fairfax

February 27: Sleepy Hollow; Scenic Avenue in San Anselmo

March 6: Downtown Ross and San Anselmo

March 13: Oak Manor and top of Fairfax Manor in Fairfax; Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Ross; Laurel Grove in San Anselmo/Ross

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