TIS bnr green water


Corte Madera, CA                                                                                               August 2011
The Inside Source is produced by Marin Municipal Water District to inform local decisionmakers and opinion leaders on issues affecting Marin's water, people, and environment.

MMWD Awarded State Grant Funds
Watershed Roads Closing this Fall for Slide Repairs
Water Education Programs for Local Schools
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MMWD Board of Directors
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Public Meetings

Wed., Sept. 7, 7:30 pm
Board Room

Wed., Sept. 21, 7:30 pm
Board Room 


Here are the most current reservoir and water use figures:
  • Reservoir Levels - As of August 28, reservoir levels were 87 percent of capacity, or 68,852 acre-feet.* These levels are much higher than the average for this date of 72 percent (57,131 acre-feet).
  • Water Use - August water use is below average, continuing a trend set earlier this year. Consumption for the week ending August 28 was 30.5 million gallons. Consumption for the same week in 2010 was 33.2.
  • Creek Releases - For the month of July MMWD released 190 million gallons, or a total of 582 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 agreement with the State of California.  
  • Rainfall - No measurable rainfall for the current rainfall year (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012).  

Rainfall and reservoir figures can be found on the homepage of our website.


*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.  


MMWD will receive $1.36 million as its portion of a Bay Area regional grant award of $33.2 million from State Proposition 84, which was passed by voters in 2006.

Half a million of MMWD's grant funds will go toward financing an expansion of the district's recycled water system, including the construction of a new pipeline to serve the Peacock Gap Golf Course in San Rafael and other customers en route. The total cost of the expansion is an estimated $10.1 million, with funding to come from various sources. MMWD's recycled water system, operating since 1981, serves more than 350 customers in San Rafael.

The remaining $862,500 awarded to MMWD will be used as matching funds for water conservation program rebates. These funds will help offset the costs of high-efficiency toilets and washing machines, weather-based irrigation controllers and water-efficient landscaping. MMWD expects to sign a contract and receive the funds in 2012 or 2013.

In total, Prop. 84 will provide $5.4 billion statewide for habitat restoration, water resources improvements and water quality improvements. Of this sum, $138 million has been reserved for the San Francisco Bay Area.

MMWD to Manage Grant-funded Regional Planning Effort
One of the grants awarded to the Bay Area region is in the amount of $842,556 for the revision of the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan. The IRWM Plan was completed in 2006 and has been adopted by more than 25 Bay Area counties, cities, water and sanitation districts, flood control agencies and non-profit agencies. The plan defines priorities for regional water management projects and serves as a guide for state grant funding decisions. The plan update will incorporate the latest information on climate change impacts. MMWD will be managing the plan update for the region.

More information about the Bay Area IRWMP is available here.


The MMWD Water Rate Advisory Committee, a citizens' committee formed earlier this year, is continuing to immerse itself in the study of water rate structure alternatives. At the August meeting the committee heard an expert from independent consultant Black & Veatch explain what factors must be considered in developing a rate structure that allocates costs fairly among various customer categories.


MMWD created the citizens' committee to provide recommendations to the board on possible changes to the current rate structure, which has been in place since 2003. The current rate structure has a basic meter charge for all customers and a water use charge with four inclining tiers based on water use. The district's goal for any new rate structure is one that secures a more consistent base revenue stream for the district and allocates costs fairly and accurately across all customer categories.


The citizens' committee will continue to meet through November and then make a recommendation to the MMWD Board of Directors regarding possible changes to MMWD's current rate structure.


The committee's next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 28, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm and is open to the public. It will be held in the MMWD Board Room, 220 Nellen Avenue, Corte Madera.


Background materials provided to the committee are available here.      


Three popular roads on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed are scheduled to be closed this fall for repairs necessitated by slides resulting from heavy spring rains. The affected routes include:
  • Sky Oaks Road - Traffic control and periodic closures are planned during regular work hours Monday-Friday, October-November.
  • Concrete Pipe Road - Closed from Bolinas Road to Five Corners during regular work hours Monday-Friday, October-January. 
  • Shaver Grade - Closed from Concrete Pipe Road to the bottom of Fish Grade also during regular work hours Monday-Friday, October-January. 
Every effort will be made to open the roads to visitors after work hours and on weekends. Visit marinwater.org for updates.


Earlier this month MMWD Fisheries Biologist Gregory Andrew testified at the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture about MMWD's work to protect coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek. Andrew has managed MMWD's Lagunitas Creek fisheries protection program since the mid-1990s, while MMWD has had the program since the late 1970s.

As Andrew explained, Lagunitas Creek, which originates on Mt. Tamalpais, has supported the largest and most stable coho population in Central California, but coho are in serious trouble in Lagunitas Creek, as they are elsewhere.

Coho salmon have a three-year life history and can be tracked in three-year intervals. All three year classes in Lagunitas Creek are now at extremely low numbers. According to MMWD's fish surveys, the coho population has plummeted since 2007 from a high of over 1,300 spawning adults in 2005 to a low of 43 in 2009 and only 152 in 2011; ocean conditions appear to be a major factor in this decline.

Andrew recommended continuing the current habitat enhancement efforts, throughout the watershed, as the best chance for increasing coho populations and preventing their extinction. Time is an issue, however. Andrew advised streamlining state and federal permitting processes and shortening the public funding process. Andrew acknowledged that the State of California has been very active in leading and supporting restoration efforts and should continue in that role.

MMWD's Lagunitas Creek spawner survey results are included in the reports at the bottom of this page.

MMWD is offering free, fun-filled and informative environmental education programs for schools in the district's service area during the 2011-12 school year. The programs are designed to support California education standards while fostering water conservation and environmental stewardship. Programs include field trips, musical assemblies, classroom presentations and service learning opportunities. Bilingual (Spanish-English) assemblies and classroom presentations are available, as are school bus reimbursements for qualifying schools.

To learn more, visit marinwater.org.

MMWD was disappointed when Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee ruled earlier this month that the district's desalination project environmental impact report, certified by the district in 2009, did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. The ruling invalidates the certification and requires MMWD to rescind its approval of the five million gallon per day desalination plant.

Duryee ruled against MMWD on 11 points and for the district on 34 issues. Those items on which she ruled against MMWD included her assertion that MMWD had not adequately described the age of the fish species of concern that migrate past the proposed intake structure, her assertion that MMWD had failed to do an adequate source water monitoring program and her assertion that an alternative that includes conservation savings from new plumbing codes and additional water from Sonoma County was feasible and less environmentally damaging than desalination.

Despite MMWD's strong arguments noting multiple flaws with the tentative ruling (including significant precedent from California case law), Duryee finalized the tentative ruling with no changes at the end of the August 16 hearing. Once this final decision is entered by the Court, MMWD will have 60 days in which to appeal.

Due to significant reductions in water use since 2008, the MMWD Board of Directors put the desalination project on hold in 2010. Should demand return to levels necessitating the desalination facility, MMWD will need to have a certified EIR before being able to proceed.


 At the August 17 meeting the MMWD Board of Directors approved a business plan for the development of a "Friends" type nonprofit organization to support the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. The planning effort took a full year to complete and included several workshops to obtain public input. The new organization will focus on funding habitat restoration and historic facility projects and an expanded watershed education program. Future potential projects include the idea of a watershed education center to support the environmental education program and having the new organization serve a convening role for collaboration on projects and programs that include other public land management partners on Mt. Tamalpais.  



Check out these recent blog posts:

  • Precipitation rates and you (click here). 
  • They help the turtles that call Mt. Tamalpais home (click here).   
  • Need water-wise advice for your garden? Call the Marin Master Gardeners (click here).

We welcome your comments and need your help raising awareness about water in Marin.  Please share this information with your members and constituents. Thank you!

Libby Pischel, Public Information Officer
Marin Municipal Water District
(415) 945-1421