Marin County Taps Into Emergency Reserve Water

It’s the worst dry spell to hit the Bay Area, and one region in particular is already tapping into reserves.

The Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), which serves the south and central parts of the county, began pumping water from its Phoenix Lake reservoir to its Bon Tempe reservoir today. The process is set to last 30 days and move about 65 million gallons of water.

Mike Ban, an engineering manager with MMWD, said it was a rare move but necessary given the rough dry spell after measuring stations only accumulated about eleven inches of rain in all of 2013.

“That is unprecedented. Our prior low was 19 inches in 1929 for annual rainfall, we normally get 52 inches,” Ban explained.

Ban said the water district board is now preparing for worst case scenarios, including possibly severe water rationing plans that could come as early as late March or early April.

MORE: Drought Prompts Federal Disaster Declarations in Bay Area

Over at Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, manager Kori Stockler said the low water issue has grown to be a popular topic.

“It’s definitely on everyone’s minds. You hear people talking about it,” Stockler said. “And as a place that goes through a lot of water, we’re a whole brewery. We brew lots of beer with water. We definitely don’t want to have a shortage with that. It would definitely affect business, it could affect production.”

Overall, the reservoirs serving South and Central Marin County were at full capacity last year. This year they’re at just 55-percent of normal.

Both Marin and Sonoma counties have already launched their “Drought On, Water Off” conservation awareness campaigns, which doesn’t usually happen until summer.

George Koch of Woodacre recalled the water rationing that followed the drought in the 1970s.

“It was very dry they put a pipe across the Richmond bridge to bring in the water from the Delta and we were rationed,” said Koch.

Ban said the last time MMWD had to pump from one of its two reserves was in March 2012, but the rain ultimately came days later. They dubbed it “Miracle March.”

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