Posts Tagged ‘drought’

In response to the continuing drought, the State Water Resources Control Board announced new emergency regulations in July designed to reduce outdoor water use statewide. To fully comply with the state, on August 19 the MMWD Board of Directors adopted an ordinance amending the water waste section of the district’s code.

Most of the new state regulations mirror water waste restrictions MMWD has had in place for some time. However, two changes may affect you: Irrigating between 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. is prohibited, as is using a hose without a shutoff nozzle. We’ve long recommended that our customers follow these water-saving practices; now, these recommendations are requirements.

We appreciate your cooperation!

Prohibited Water Uses

Under state and district water conservation regulations, the following are prohibited:

  • NEW: Irrigating between 9 a.m. – 7 p.m, except for system testing and repair
  • NEW: Using a hose without a shutoff nozzle
  • Allowing irrigation water to runoff or overspray the irrigated area
  • Hosing down sidewalks, driveways, and other hard-surfaced areas
  • Non-recirculating decorative fountains

FREE hose shutoff nozzles are available at MMWD’s Corte Madera office (one per household, please).

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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 Dan Carney

help your trees survive the drought thumbnail

Infographic: Help Your Trees Survive the Drought. Click for a downloadable PDF. (Courtesy of the California Urban Forests Council)

According to the Department of Water Resources, California usually receives 75 percent of its annual precipitation between November and March, and in many parts of California landscape plants need little or no winter watering during this time. When rain doesn’t show up, plants become stressed and need an occasional drink to survive. If you’re trying to decide how to meet your conservation goals, consider letting lawns and other less-essential landscape plants go dry and focus on keeping the trees healthy.

Trees bring incredible values to the community that increase every year. Literally, money grows on trees in the form of water, soil, and energy conservation; habitat value; air quality improvements; carbon sequestration; and quality of life. It’s hard to find a better economic deal anywhere worth the gallons of water required to keep trees alive.

Mature trees, with access to groundwater and broad extensive root systems, usually are better adapted to periodic droughts—100-year oaks have weathered some tough times—and may actually be harmed by supplemental irrigation. Please consult your local UC Cooperative Extension office, certified arborist, landscape professional, or MMWD if you have specific questions about your trees.

For most newly planted and newly established trees, here is a simplified method you can follow to ensure they get enough water to survive the drought: Rule of thumb—10 gallons per week per inch of trunk diameter.

♦ Using a garden hose:

Newly planted trees: Place the hose on the ground near the root ball. Turn on the faucet to medium flow. Give the tree 10 gallons of water for every inch of tree trunk diameter (measured 6” above the ground). Since newly planted trees have limited root systems, they may need to be watered 2-3 times each week. For example, a 2-inch diameter tree will get a total of 20 gallons of water each week. If the hose flows at 5 gallons per minute, water for 1-2 minutes several times a week. (Use the second-hand on your watch and a bucket to measure gallons per minute.)

Newly established trees (1-5 years old): Place the hose on the ground as near as possible to the outside edge of the branches (the drip line). Follow the same watering guideline (10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter), but measure the trunk diameter at chest height. Because established trees have a more extensive root system they can be watered less frequently (about once every 7-10 days) depending on the soil type and time of year. For example, using a hose flowing at 5 gallons per minute, a 5-inch diameter tree would be watered for 10 minutes (50 gallons) every 7-10 days.

♦ Using drip emitter tubing:

Newly planted trees: Place the drip emitter tubing directly on top of the soil and in a circle near the root ball. A typical drip emitter hose with one-gallon-per-hour emitters spaced one foot apart would need to operate for about 40 minutes 2-3 times a week.

Newly established trees (1-5 years old): Place the drip emitter tubing directly on top of the soil and in a circle near the outside edge of the branches (the drip line). For a tree that was planted 1-5 year ago, run the drip emitter tubing for 90 minutes every 7-10 days.

Important note: If water starts to runoff or pond, reduce the flow, move the hose to a new location around the tree every few minutes, or water for fewer minutes at a time so that all water infiltrates completely into the soil. Finally, apply a generous 4-inch deep layer of organic mulch under the tree (keeping the mulch 6 inches away from the trunk) to preserve the moisture in the soil.

Taking the time to correctly water trees helps preserve scarce water resources and maintains a healthy environment for everyone.

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by Charlene Burgi

No matter where I turn, the buzz words seem to be “water shortages.” Weather reports on TV are flooding in from Nevada as well as California. A phone call with a friend was spent chatting about how parched they are in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Email from a former neighbor that moved to a ranch above Willets relayed the same story. And the topic didn’t stop there.

My son, Randy, called last week to say he had just returned from the Country Natural Beef winter co-op meeting in Boise, Idaho. Instead of the intended focus on beef, water shortages stole the show. Concerned attendees spent their time discussing how the weather conditions will affect agriculture from Hawaii throughout the western states if we don’t get some of that precious commodity falling from the skies soon.

On a local level, just how does this affect all of us and our gardens? And what can we do to protect our landscape during this time when the MMWD board is asking for 25 percent voluntary conservation? This is January. As a certified arborist, and die-hard gardener, I know this is the time to be pruning our trees—but is it? I couldn’t help questioning myself given the ongoing dry forecasts and present weather conditions reported from afar.

A call to International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) confirmed my suspicions, as did surfing the web for any information I could find. Believe me, there isn’t a whole lot written about this topic, so let me share my findings:

  1. Apical bud

    Apical bud

    Do not prune live branches from your trees right now. Stick with the three D’s—dead, diseased, and damaged/broken limbs should be removed. That is it! Pruning the apical or living branch tip, otherwise known as the leafy tip of the stem, will stimulate new growth, which means it will take more to keep the new growth of the tree alive during a time when trees are under stress. It will also cause the tree to expend more energy into the new growth as a result of the pruning.

  2. Do not fertilize trees as this action requires the tree to use more energy to process the fertilizer from the roots throughout the tree.
  3. Do not dig, cultivate, or rototill anywhere close to the dripline of trees during a water shortage. The tiny hair-like roots are like straws that draw up what water is available. Cutting off these “straws” by cultivating will add more stress to the tree by diminishing its ability to utilize available water.
  4. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Three to four inches is not too much! Carry the mulch out beyond the dripline. To avoid rot, keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree and feather it up to reach the potential depth of the mulch.
  5. Shower with a bucket

    Shower with a bucket

    Newly planted trees will require about one gallon of water a week. This water can be saved by showering with a bucket or large dish pan that will collect runoff. Use a biodegradable, phosphate-free soap. If your trees are within 200 feet of a stream, create berms around the dripline of the tree and water within the berm to allow the soil to “clean” any soap residue so it won’t enter the waterways.

Remember that trees are the bones of your landscaping. They are a huge investment considering the years it takes for them to grow. Protect them the best that you can during this water-stressed time by holding off on any scheduled pruning.

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