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Posts Tagged ‘water supply’

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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by Charlene Burgi

The Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards are behind us now. The gold, silver, and bronze medals were doled out to the highest scoring athletes in their fields. And the Oscars were distributed to the best actors, actresses, and others in the movie industry for their work of excellence. After those events were over, celebrations occurred. Good works, no matter what type, deserve a celebration after the fact, considering the tension, dedication, passion, determination, and grit required to achieve those goals.

consumption levels graph

Thanks to your conservation efforts water usage this past week was down 24% over the same week last year. Keep up the good work!

Similarly, all of us who are working at water conservation stepped closer to the podium or stage when MMWD’s Board of Directors asked us to voluntarily save water. It amazes me that those of you conserving naturally on a daily basis and under normal circumstances dug even deeper to save more water during a critical time.

Those athletes and actors didn’t stop when their goal was in sight. Practice sessions, rehearsals, and continual striving were part of their daily lives. We, too, are still striving to reach our goal by conserving water. The goal is to ensure a comfortable supply of water in our reservoirs come April 1. Mother Nature is helping us with these late but heavy rainfalls. We can continue working toward keeping the water in the reservoirs, but take time also to applaud and reward ourselves for our efforts so far.

How might we reward ourselves? My daughter Lynette mentioned that she has an itch to get into the garden. Most of us who love nature share that itch after a long winter. But because we are still focused on conservation, we are resisting the temptation to buy or plant more plants that require irrigation. If you share this feeling, perhaps the treat for your conservation effort is to plant a few bulbs.

Neglected bulbs keep coming up

Neglected bulbs keep coming up

Bulbs require little, if any, care, but their rewards are great. Despite the extreme dryness we have experienced, the lack of rain didn’t stop the fall-planted daffodils from coming up with a show of color. Any person passing by a clump of freesias could still take pleasure in their intoxicating fragrance. The harbinger of spring known as crocus popped up to remind us of the goodness that comes from the earth when all else seemed threatened by a lack of water.

Daffodils after the rain

Daffodils after the rain

While it is too late for planting spring bulbs, summer blooming bulbs are available at your local nurseries right now. Lilies, gladiolas, and iris are just a few plants that provide lots of color with minimal care. As seen on this web video, it takes little effort on your part to succeed when planting bulbs. Your itch to plant something in the garden will be satisfied, and the awards for your achievements will be found blooming in the garden this summer. The biggest reason for celebration will be in the near future. It won’t come with the crossing of a finish line or the opening of a golden envelope, but from the knowledge that you did your best when asked to perform. The gold prize will be found in our reservoirs.

Keep up the great work.

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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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by Charlene Burgi

This past week found us all embracing the rains falling from above. A whopping 14.76 inches of rain fell at Lake Lagunitas. The 41,924 acre-feet of water stored in our lakes before the storm rose to 50,748 acre-feet after. Are we out of the woods regarding the drought? Can we return to our old ways of thinking about how we use water? No. We are in much better shape after the storm, but we can’t let the rain make us complacent. Keep up the great work you are doing. Keep focused on conservation!

It was easy to stay focused on conservation with Brad Lancaster, the guru “water stretcher” extraordinaire, speaking in the Bay Area on Monday night and Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning found the room packed as Brad shared his experiences and findings in such places as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and South Korea. Some of the sites he spoke of lived successfully on as little as four inches of water a year!

Brad spoke about how these countries focused on graywater use as well as capturing and storing rainwater. He talked about using plant materials that were indigenous to the region and about grading to create bioswales so water slows down, spreads out, and sinks into the soil instead of running off. He talked about creating sponges of our soils by letting clippings lay where they fall to allow for natural composting.

His lectures were so detailed it would take several blog posts to cover all the points that he discussed. Therefore, once I get home, I plan to spend several weeks exploring in more detail the topics he covered.

I must admit, being in Marin in February was a double treat. First, the rains seemed to lift everyone’s spirits. Secondly, everywhere I went, Daphne odora was in bloom. The fragrance wafting through the air intercepted me entering the bank on Fourth Street in San Rafael, walking toward the building where Brad spoke, and even visiting my daughter’s home. Daphne is the perfect plant for me. Deer don’t eat it; it thrives in the deepest shade with minimal water; it blooms at the time of year when most other plants lay dormant; and, oh, that fragrance can stop you dead in your tracks! It is a plant that thrives on neglect. Pampering it will leave you disappointed.

Flowering quince

Flowering quince

There is another plant that captured my attention while in Marin. Chaenomeles, otherwise known as flowering quince, is a beautiful plant that is rarely seen in gardens anymore, yet carries many of the same favorable qualities as daphne. Deer don’t bother it; minimal water is needed to keep it looking good; and it comes in beautiful shades of red, orange, pink, coral, or white. The difference in the two plants is flowering quince is much happier in the sun and, while lacking fragrance, it will thrive in temperatures well below zero—a plant after my own heart. It didn’t take long before I was driving to the local nurseries choosing just the right plants to live in Lassen! Of course, while there, I couldn’t leave without picking up bareroot edible crops such as asparagus, seed potatoes, and onion sets.

Water HarvestingA busy week in Marin has come to a close and finds me preparing to go back home with my head filled with new ideas about how to approach rainwater harvesting and graywater use, and a burning desire to get my hands in the soil to plant new-found treasures. I can only hope our heavy rainfall at home provides workable soil that is no longer frozen!

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day.

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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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by Charlene Burgi

The saying “Timing is everything” couldn’t hold truer than at this moment regarding water conservation. Incoming news from Marin is giving us time to plan.

A few days before Christmas an email came to my inbox stating that the MMWD Board of Directors passed a resolution calling on customers to conserve water due to the record-breaking low rainfall we have experienced in the past year.

To further drive this point home, Wendy, a dear friend from the Water Conservation Department, shared Christmas with us. Upon her arrival, she showed us the Marin IJ, which carried a front page story about the extremely dry conditions.

The article reported statistics that shocked me. I read that less than 11 inches of rain fell in Marin in 2013. That is eight fewer inches than the recorded low from 1929—less on a calendar year basis than the debilitating drought we remember so well in the ‘70s!

This news gave me pause for thought. We have time to cinch our belts now and check our conservation practices at home as well as at work. Good times often make us more lax in our practices and habits—conserving water is no exception! Perhaps it is time to reassess our daily routine.

There is time right now to check for dripping faucets that may have been placed on a back burner. Repair them with proper washers or replace the culprit if it is beyond repair. Did a water survey reveal a leaking toilet that needs a flapper replacement? Did that chore get put off until the proverbial tomorrow? Has the irrigation controller been upgraded to a smart controller, or is it still programmed by the “by guess, by golly” method? Is the soil amended so irrigation water soaks into the root zone, or does the heavy clay cause the water to run off? Are the planting beds heavily mulched to inhibit evaporation? Drip systems need to be checked for missing emitters, spray heads require visual analysis to determine if the spray is targeting the intended area and didn’t vibrate into the street or sidewalk.

Smart irrigation controllers

MMWD is offering rebates on smart irrigation controllers and more. Visit marinwater.org/rebates for details. (Photo by Richard Wheeler)

The water district can help you with your conservation efforts in several ways. If you have never had a water survey, call to have one of MMWD’s specialists visit your home, check for leaks and offer suggestions for how to conserve. While there, the specialist can talk to you about rebate programs that could save you money toward the purchase of a new high-efficiency toilet (or two), washing machine and smart controller.

Timing is everything. The water we save right now means that much more water in our reservoirs for that much longer. New ideas, new habits and renewed practices put into action now also will give time for a seamless transition if the dry weather persists and we must move from voluntary to mandatory use reduction.

And what better time to start or renew good practices! We are always thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Let conservation be at the top of your list.

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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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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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More than an inch of rain fell on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed on September 21, just one day before the official start of fall. That single day of heavy rain brought this year’s total rainfall to 1.08 inches, which is above average. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend, although typically we don’t receive significant rainfall until November.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of September 22, reservoir storage is 54,088 acre-feet,* or 68 percent of capacity. The average for this date is 55,036 acre-feet, or 69 percent of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to mid-September (July 1-September 22, 2013) is 1.08 inches. Average for the same period is 0.54 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week ending September 22 averaged 29.3 million gallons per day, compared to 29.7 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Supply Source: Last week we averaged 23.6 million gallons per day from our reservoirs and 5.7 million gallons per day from the Russian River.

Creek Releases: During the month of August 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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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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