Marin may soon face water shortages

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Drake Murphy

The California Department of Water Resources published its winter forecast recently, predicting little but dry conditions. In Marin, with reservoirs at 59% of their capacity and a total rainfall since July 1 of 3.79 inches, a dry year is becoming a concern.

Although Marin’s current water storage level is 50% higher than the winter shortage level of 30,000 acre-feet, current rainfall is has only reached 31.5% of the normal annual average.

Because this has been such an unusually dry winter, the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors met Dec. 17 and contemplate preparations for a water shortage.

In an email interview, MMWD Public Information Representative Elisa Ignatius said that the district has been looking closely at their recycled water and Russian River supply sources.

“In the short term, we will continue to monitor reservoir levels, water use and rainfall daily, and to ask all customers to do their part to reduce consumption,” she wrote.

Previously, the most severe dry year on record occurred between 1976 and 1977. This drought spurred the MMWD to construct a pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge a to import water. To keep a stable supply of water, the MMWD relied on consumers to cut their water use by 63% through mandatory reduction.

Unlike the past droughts and dry years, water-saving techniques that have since been implemented have resulted in a total and per capita consumption lower than in the 1970s.

Going into 2014, a dry and mostly sunny forecast will give Marin’s water supply an uncertain future.