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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Front page of map of Marin County's public landsIn collaboration with the major public land management agencies in Marin County celebrating anniversaries this year, MMWD is pleased to offer a free visitor’s guide to Marin County’s park lands.

The guide includes a map of the 143,000 acres of public lands in the county and suggestions for activities to enjoy on these lands year round, such as hikes and bike rides and sites for viewing wildlife and unique flora. The guide is available for free in the district’s customer service lobby at 220 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera and at the Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. There is also an electronic copy available on our website.

2012 marks the anniversary of several of Marin’s public land management agencies. MMWD turned 100 years old on April 25, making it the first municipal water district in California. MMWD’s purchase of watershed lands and donations from the Kent family on Mt. Tamalpais were close on the heels of the creation of Muir Woods National Monument and a keystone in what is now a major network of public parks preserving Marin’s natural beauty and biological treasures. Also celebrating anniversaries in 2012, Golden Gate National Recreation Area turned 75, Tomales Bay State Park turned 60, Point Reyes National Seashore turned 50 and Marin County Parks turned 40. In addition to these anniversaries, MMWD shares with these agencies the common mission of land stewardship to preserve Marin County’s public lands.

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Meet author Jack Gibson at Book Passage in Corte Madera, July 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Cover image of Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water DistrictWith the founding of MMWD in 1912, the citizens of Marin not only created a public water system but also laid the groundwork for the perpetual protection of the 18,500-acre Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District, a new pictorial history book by Director Jack Gibson, documents the district’s role in the preservation of this beloved central landmark and the district’s work to ensure a reliable supply of high-quality water for Marin.

The book, from Arcadia Publishing, is available in local bookstores, at MMWD or may be ordered online. Proceeds benefit a fund to protect the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. The book was written to commemorate MMWD’s 100th anniversary.

Director Gibson, a member of MMWD’s board of directors since 1995, is a practicing Marin County attorney as well as an avid historian and a former history teacher. In working on the book, he spent countless hours sifting through photos and documents in MMWD’s extensive archives. The book includes about 200 historical images.

To meet the author and hear more about the history of MMWD, please join us:

Reading, Reception & Book Signing
Thursday, July 26, 7:00 p.m.
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera

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by Charlene Burgi

There are some things in life we are more passionate about than others. Topping my list are family, friends, plants, animals and new irrigation technology that saves water. Seriously! Those who know me may say the first four items are a given—but new irrigation technology? Really? To that, I say yes!

The irrigation industry has surpassed everyone’s expectations by how much they have improved the efficiency of irrigation systems during the past twelve years. Their advances can be seen at the annual Irrigation Association trade shows, which display innovative products that save time, money and most important—water. Every year there are new and improved water-saving devices. For example, this past year one manufacturer came out with a product that includes a sensor that is inserted into the lawn. The sensor reads the moisture and sends a message to the controller to tell it to water if the soil moisture is too low. Moisture-sensing irrigation systems may not be new; however, this device works off of the existing controller instead of requiring a whole new irrigation system.

I have a real affinity for smart controllers. Twelve years ago very few people in the industry had heard of them. Studies were done by many, including yours truly, and the general consensus found smart controllers save an average of 25 percent of the water typically used for irrigation. That water savings equates to dollar savings! For that matter, it also equates to saving your plants’ health by ensuring they don’t get too much or too little irrigation water.

Since the first smart controllers were tested, the manufacturers have continued to improve their performance and add new features. Now you have the option of managing your controller from your PC or having signals sent via cell phone from a server. There are devices that can be added to the smart system that will postpone irrigation if it is too windy (since wind can cause the spray to drift away from the targeted area). The controller can be preset automatically to omit watering if you always have a party on the 4th of July, or shut down if there is a break in the line. The features are too numerous to list. I must admit, I am a certified card-carrying nut about these smart controllers.

Given this information, have you considered installing a smart controller to operate your irrigation system? It takes the guesswork out of how long your irrigation must run to sustain your plants for optimum health. The smart controller is programmed with custom settings for each irrigated area of your garden. It wants to know the soil type, the sun exposure, the type of sprinkler used, what type of plants are being watered, and if the area is on a slope. This information is programmed for each hydrozone/valve in your garden! The controller then reads the weather conditions before watering, makes necessary adjustments based on the evapotranspiration since the garden was last irrigated, and then applies the perfect amount of water to sustain the plants.

I’ve heard a rumor that, in celebration of Smart Irrigation Month, MMWD will be teaming up with The Urban Farmer Store and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program to offer discount coupons for WaterSense-labeled smart irrigation controllers. The WaterSense label means a product has been independently certified to meet rigorous water efficiency and performance standards. This might be the perfect opportunity to invest in a smart controller if you don’t have one. I may make a believer of you, too! Stay tuned for more details next week.

Special Event at Book Passage July 26 to Launch New History Book on MMWD and Mt. Tam

Local author and MMWD Director Jack Gibson will present a new book, Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District, at a special event on Thursday, July 26, 7:00 p.m. at Book Passage in Corte Madera. The pictorial history (from the mid 1800s through today) tells the story of the formation of the MMWD in 1912 and includes about 200 archival images. The book, written to commemorate MMWD’s 100th anniversary, also explains the founders’ commitment to the preservation of Mt. Tamalpais and how that idea was central to their vision for the new district. Please join us for what is sure to be a fun and fascinating event!

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Annual Water Quality Report cover

In recognition of MMWD’s centennial anniversary this year, the cover of our 2012 Annual Water Quality Report features a historical photo of Alpine Lake from the district’s archives.

The Marin Municipal Water District has released its 2012 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 report is available in print and online in both English and Spanish.

The water quality information is reported annually in compliance with requirements established by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a policy of MMWD to inform our customers of the contents of their drinking water and water quality standards.

State and/or 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. Each year MMWD conducts over 120,000 water quality tests from watershed to faucet.

About 75 percent of the district’s 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.

In recognition of MMWD’s centennial anniversary this year, the cover of the report features a 1920 photo of Alpine Lake from our archives. MMWD received its charter on April 25, 1912, making it the first municipal water district in California. The construction of Alpine Dam between the summer of 1917 and the spring of 1919 was one of the first acts of the newly formed district.

We are currently mailing this year’s report to all of our approximately 60,000 customers in central and southern Marin as a bill insert. In addition, we recently sent the report in a special mailing to over 48,000 apartment dwellers and others who do not receive a water bill. Printed copies in English or Spanish also can be requested from the MMWD Water Quality Lab at (415) 945-1550.

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by Charlene Burgi

cliviaI spent this week at my 93-year-young mother’s home. Her front garden, one that she continues to tend, has an eclectic look that always draws attention and compliments from those passing by. While visiting, I walked down the garden path. The crimson rhododendrons nodded their big blooms in the gentle breeze. From below, competition-orange spikes of clivia vied for attention. The azaleas growing near the birdbath sported brilliant color as various species of birds delighted in this folly.

The walk evoked memories from the past. This garden was installed over sixty years ago by my dad, his father and their Italian friends. These men were craftsmen from the old country who loved the soil and all it produced. They were fabulous gardeners. As a child, I remember watching them install what seemed like mountains of composted manure and topsoil into this relatively small space. The soil almost appeared black. It was so rich I couldn’t help but run my hands through it. Little did I realize the importance of their effort, but these Italians understood the need for healthy soil. Their attention to this detail allowed for an otherwise high-water hydrozone to thrive with only modest to low irrigation.

Time in the garden witnessed an evolution as my sister Donna and I grew. In the early years, the garden sported a lawn where we played croquet with neighborhood friends. As we got older, Donna and I traded in the croquet set for adventures that took us out and away from the front yard, and the lawn was no longer needed. My mother is extremely practical as well as thrifty. She recognized the drain on our time mowing, as well as the savings realized by not watering a lawn. Our teen years found the lawn transformed into a perennial garden mixed with flowering shrubs, a small birds-eye gravel path meandering through.

Strolling through my mother’s garden also reminded me of another garden where I wandered as a child. The memories found me in my grandparents’ yard, which was beautifully designed and lovingly installed by my mother’s Italian father. Nono didn’t leave a bare spot unturned without planting beautiful flowers. His passion spilled beyond his garden and into the streetscapes surrounding their home where neighbors relished his works. The steep streetscape overlooking the Carquinez Strait in Contra Costa County found my grandfather hand-watering the glorious flowers that colored an otherwise drab landscape. Buckets of mulch were hauled up the hill to help hold the moisture in the soil on this windy slope drenched in sunlight. Hand-watering the prized streetscape must have been a laborious act of love. He put into practice what he knew to be efficient as well as practical . . . even on a steep hillside.

Completing my little walk along my mother’s path, I realized what gifts I was given as a child—to grow up in a family with an amazing wealth of knowledge and passion for the soil and all that grows from it. During the walk, I found a bare spot that is now waiting for me to plant a jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) that called to me at a local nursery. Its dainty pink flowers will bring hummingbirds to the garden and cheer to my mom.

Join Us for These Upcoming Events!

MMWD is hosting an Open House this Saturday, May 5, in celebration of the district’s 100th anniversary and to say “Thank you!” to our customers. Please join us for refreshments, giveaways, kids’ activities, historical displays, demonstrations and guided tours of MMWD’s water quality lab and operations center. The free, family-friendly event will be 10:00 a.m. to noon at our corporation yard at 220 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera.

If you are looking for inspiration for your garden, look no further than your Marin neighbors. The Marin Bay-Friendly Garden Tour on Saturday, May 19, features 11 beautiful gardens that will inspire you with low-water-use and native plants, backyard farming, wildlife habitat, lawn conversions, rainwater harvesting and more. Registration is $10 and includes a tour guidebook with directions, garden descriptions and 36 garden entrance tickets that can be shared with your family and friends.

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MMWD centennial logoThe Marin Municipal Water District is hosting an open house this Saturday, May 5, in celebration of the district’s 100th anniversary and to say “Thank you!” to our customers. Please join us for refreshments, giveaways, kids’ activities, historical displays, demonstrations and guided tours of MMWD’s water quality lab and operations center. The free, family-friendly event will be 10:00 a.m. to noon at the district’s corporation yard at 220 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera.

MMWD received its charter on April 25, 1912, making it California’s first municipal water district. Before that, water in central and southern Marin was provided by a number of small, private companies, many of them subsidiaries of real estate developers. To ensure a reliable water supply, the citizens of Marin came together to create a publicly owned and managed water system. In the process, they also lay the foundation for the perpetual protection of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed—today a primary source of drinking water for 185,000 Marin residents.

The district is also celebrating its centennial with monthly guided naturalist hikes on the watershed, special species monitoring and trail and habitat restoration programs, the publication of a pictorial MMWD history book by Director Jack Gibson, and other special events throughout the year. Visit the centennial page on our website to see what’s coming up.

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MMWD centennial logoThis Wednesday, April 25, 2012, will mark 100 years since MMWD received its charter as the first municipal water district in California.

Before that, water in central and southern Marin was provided by a number of small, private companies, many of them subsidiaries of real estate developers. To ensure a reliable water supply, the citizens of Marin came together to create a publicly owned and managed water system. In the process, they also lay the foundation for the perpetual protection of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed—today a primary source of drinking water for 185,000 Marin residents.

To celebrate “a century of service and stewardship,” and to say thank you to our customers, we are hosting two free public events: First, we’ll mark the big day with a special program this Wednesday, April 25, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in our corporation yard at 220 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera. Dietrich Stroeh, MMWD general manager during the 1976-77 drought of record, will be the keynote speaker. Due to space limitations, reservations are required.

Then on Saturday, May 5, we’ll be hosting an open house from 10:00 a.m. to noon in our corporation yard. Plan to bring the whole family and join us for tours of our water quality lab and operations center, historical displays, demonstrations, refreshments and special activities just for kids. No need to register—just drop by and help us celebrate!

We’re also celebrating throughout the year with monthly guided naturalist hikes on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and other special events. To see what’s coming up—and to learn more about MMWD’s history—visit the centennial page on our website.

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