Corte Madera, CA                                                                                                  December 2013
The Inside Source is produced by Marin Municipal Water District to inform local decision makers and opinion leaders on issues affecting Marin's water, people and environment.

Record Low Rainfall Year
Dry Conditions Pervasive
Please Conserve to Preserve our Supply
Spread the Word

MMWD Board of Directors 
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Happy Holidays from MMWD

 Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014! 

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.

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.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons

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.

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 the homepage of our website.

*One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

Although Marin is more dependent on rainfall than other areas for water supply, 2013 has been a dry year for the entire state, with below-normal rainfall and snowmelt in all corners. Earlier this week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the creation of a drought management team to prepare for and reduce potential impacts of what is expected to be a third straight dry year in 2014. More

And closer to home, the Sonoma County Water Agency, which manages Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, is requesting permission from the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce upper Russian River flows between Lake Mendocino and Healdsburg to sustain water storage levels in Lake Mendocino, which is extremely low. Lake Mendocino is a water supply source for communities in northern Sonoma County. Lake Sonoma serves central and southern Sonoma County as well as Marin County. Lake Sonoma water storage levels are still in the average range. More

More precipitation, whether in the form of rain or snow, would be welcomed by water managers throughout the state.

This year's unusually dry weather is a good reminder that using water wisely all the time is critical to ensuring a reliable supply for the future. Here are some easy steps to take:
  • Turn it off. Even though it is dry, irrigation systems can be turned off for the winter because plants are in their dormant phase. That means most plants require little water this time of year. Check any high-water-use plants for stress and water if needed. Adding a blanket of mulch to all your planted beds will slow evaporation and protect roots from the cold.
  • Find and fix leaks. Based on the experience of our conservation staff, about one third of homes have leaks that go undetected. Your water meter can help you monitor your water use and determine if you have a leak; find out how here.
  • Call MMWD and we will send a water conservation expert to your home or business for a free water use consultation. Call 945-1523 to schedule.
More conservation tips and programs are explained here.

Check out these recent posts from MMWD's blog, Think Blue Marin:
  • The December 2013 Lagunitas Creek spawner update is available here
  • Thank you to the Americorps California Conservation Corps Watershed Stewards Project for hosting a volunteer Lagunitas Creek habitat enhancement project recently. Read more.
  • Who knew squirrels were this clever?! You'll never guess where one squirrel decided to store food for the winter. Read about it here.   

We welcome your comments and need your help raising awareness about water in Marin. Please share this information with your colleagues and constituents. Thank you.
Libby Pischel, Public Information Officer
Marin Municipal Water District
(415) 945-1421