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Posts Tagged ‘reservoirs’

Although rainfall this year is just 66% of average, we received sufficient amounts of rain in February and March to raise reservoir levels to near-normal levels. And we even got a half inch of rain in late April as a bonus.

As we enter the irrigation season, MMWD’s water supply situation is much better than that of many parts of California. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions throughout the state range from moderate to exceptional drought. These conditions are quite evident in the dramatic photos of reservoirs and the Sierra snow pack on the home page of the California drought information website.

MMWD’s request for a 25% voluntary reduction in water use is still in effect, although the Board of Directors will review this request at the end of May.

Here are the current water statistics:

Reservoir Levels: As of April 27, reservoir storage is 65,213 acre-feet,* or 82% of capacity. The average for this date is 72,152 acre-feet, or 91% of capacity. Total capacity is 79,566 acre-feet.

Rainfall: Rainfall this fiscal year to date (July 1-April 27) is 33.22 inches. Average for the same period is 50.20 inches.

Water Use: Water use for the week of April 21-27 averaged 20 million gallons per day, compared to 27 million gallons per day for the same week last year.

Creek Releases: During the month of March 2014 MMWD released 303 million gallons, or a total of 930 acre-feet, into Lagunitas and Walker creeks in west Marin.

Water use and reservoir figures can be found on the Water Watch page of our website.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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by Paul Scott, Volunteer Watershed Ambassador

Bon Tempe and Mt. Tamalpais

Bon Tempe Lake on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed

Earth Day is upon us! This is the time to ponder our relationship with our one and only planet. In this regard a major force for me has been Mt. Tamalpais, the “crown jewel” being MMWD’s watershed lands.

The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed consists of five reservoirs and primarily the north-facing slopes of the mountain that shed rainwater into them. These “lakes” have been here long enough that they are now a focal point for the diversity of flora and fauna found here. Camping, hunting, swimming, and boating are a no-no and cars have very limited access, so it’s an oasis of sorts for natural processes to occur with minimal human disruption. While the “purpose” of these lands is to provide clean drinking water, requiring wise ecological practices, we are also blessed with their biodiversity and many recreational opportunities.

The natural resources staff work out of Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters located in the hills above Fairfax and in close proximity to three of the reservoirs. Their volunteer program offers abundant opportunity for young and old, all geared toward environmental education, wise resource management, and furthering community spirit. As a volunteer and near-daily visitor to the watershed lands myself, I see folks come to visit with smiles on their faces. Many of them are “regulars” who tell me they feel the same way I do about the area—it is a place of peace and sanctuary. I’m amazed how many come from other countries, but I’m most surprised when I meet local people who had no idea all this was here.

Come develop your relationship with your watershed—for Earth Day and any day. Experience a fine example of how humans can make use of natural resources in an intelligent and sympathetic manner for everything and everyone to share.

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by Charlene Burgi

Isn’t it wonderful! April showers continue to fill our reservoirs and replenish our groundwater. These rains work their way from the saturated earth into the creeks and drainages that comprise our watersheds. The runoff tumbles over anything in its path to reach the reservoirs that sustain all of us, our gardens, and a wealth of wildlife, too.

April is a great month! It is a time to see fruit trees blooming or watch the transformation from blossom to fruit beginning. Spring bulbs continue to dazzle us with their show of pastel colors, and the green signs of summer bulbs are slowly poking their way through the waterlogged mulch. Wildflowers are springing up all over the hills as if to say they, too, are celebrating the good earth.

What a time to celebrate this great planet. Spring is a rebirth after a long winter. Everything is anew! It is the time to appreciate our surroundings, a time to raise our awareness about how we can contribute to the health of our environment. We live in a beautiful place and we are often too busy to stop and observe the glory found right outside our doors.

It is not surprising that this is the month that we celebrate the Earth! Can I challenge you? What can you do to celebrate Earth Day? Is this the time that you can feed the soil with amendments? Start a compost pile? Farm red wiggly worms to turn kitchen scraps into amazing fertilizer? Can you find other means of killing unwanted weeds in the garden without resorting to harsh chemicals? Sheet mulch? How about planning a walk up to the reservoirs to view wildflowers or wildlife?

Earth Day Marin 2014For a more major celebration, drop in at the annual Earth Day Marin Festival this Sunday, April 6, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Redwood High School in Larkspur to see some amazing programs and international entertainment. Enjoy music, speakers, storytellers, puppet shows, authors, film screenings, organic food, and so much more. MMWD will have lots of information, hands-on activities, and giveaways to help you save water and learn more about where your water comes from. And be sure to join MMWD for a fun and inspiring “water rally” at 2 p.m. at the main stage. For complete details about the festival, check out the website: earthdaymarin.org. There is something for everyone!

Speaking of websites, I confess to holding out on the vegetable gardener reading this blog. It goes without saying that long, cold winter days in Lassen find hours of my retired life on the computer seeking out the newest coneflower, the latest method for eradicating gophers, or the tastiest tomato to grow this season. It was during such perusing that I discovered a website that costs nothing to join and contains oodles of information, planners, journals, and interactive design pages for your vegetable garden. The site provides a weekly “to-do” list so you’ll know exactly when to plant indoors, move seedlings outdoors, etc. You can find this treasured website at smartgardener.com. Try it and let me know what you think!

In closing, a friend sent an email with beautiful pictures accompanied by quotes. I couldn’t help but laugh at this quote as it tied in perfectly with this week’s blog: “Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year!” How can we beat that!

Have a great weekend and let me know your experience at the Earth Day Marin Festival!

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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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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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