County of Marin - Press Releases - Water Supply

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2014

Water Update: We’re OK, but Keep Conserving

Special districts provide update to Board of Supervisors

San Rafael, CA – General managers of Marin County’s two major water districts provided an update about water supplies and long-term water management plans July 29 before the Marin County Board of Supervisors.

Krishna Kumar of the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and Chris DeGabriele of the North Marin Water District (NMWD) said Marin is still feeling the effects of an exceptionally dry 2013, which had the lowest recorded amount of rainfall (11 inches) in 135 years. Although February 2014 rains prevented the need for mandatory water use reductions, both special districts have had voluntary restrictions on water use this year. Customers have responded to the urgent calls for conservation, having reduced water use 20 percent in Novato, 15 percent in MMWD’s jurisdiction and 8.5 percent in NMWD’s section of West Marin.

District 3 Supervisor Kathrin Sears, the Board President, said resident ought to remain vigilant with water-saving measures.

“It’s encouraging that our communities have responded to MMWD’s call for a voluntary 25 percent reduction in water use,” she said. “We still have a way to go to meet that target and great uncertainty about future rainfall. We need to use our resources wisely and redouble our commitment to conservation.”

The local water supply will always be vulnerable to the uncertainties of nature, said District 4 Supervisor Steve Kinsey, “However, the presentation we received confirmed that our major water suppliers have approved plans for how to serve current and future residents in both normal and dry years, and they update those plans every five years to reflect new information. Given that Marin is the slowest-growing county in the Bay Area, we are in a uniquely strong position to insure the ongoing reliability of our water resources."

Kumar said current MMWD storage is at a 72 percent of capacity, which is 92 percent of average for this time of year at the seven district reservoirs. Lake Lagunitas, the smallest of the reservoirs with a capacity of 350 acre-feet, has the highest figure at 98 percent of capacity. The largest one, Kent Lake (32,895 acre-feet capacity), stands at 75 percent full. The reservoirs provide 75 percent of the water consumed annually by MMWD customers; the remaining 25 percent is from the Russian River.

DeGabriele said he continues to emphasize the current drought conditions but that NMWD has enough water to meet use projections. Novato customers get 80 percent of their supply from the Russian River and 20 percent from the nearby Stafford Lake reservoir. DeGabriele said storage at two Sonoma County reservoirs, Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, were at 67 percent capacity and 37 percent capacity respectively, and that Stafford Lake was at 40 percent.

Both general managers addressed the availability of water for future housing development as it relates to the County’s update of its Housing Element section of the Countywide Plan for the years 2015-2023. Kumar explained that water providers are required by the State of California to develop a detailed 25-year water supply plan every five years. Both water suppliers rely on the growth figures developed by Marin’s land-planning authorities (the county and 11 incorporated municipalities) to determine future water supply needs.

DeGabriele noted that projected units in new Housing Element updates are much lower than previous updates. Kumar added that population growth in the MMWD service area is 0.33 percent annually.

Kumar and DeGabriele both said existing water supplies are sufficient to meet demands during both normal and dry rainfall years as long as there is a continuous conservation effort, water recycling campaigns are expanded and water use reductions are put into place when necessary. In addition, water districts are not legally allowed to call for a moratorium on new connections unless a water shortage emergency is declared. Although water supplies are currently below average, conditions do not meet the requirements to declare such an emergency.

About a dozen members of the public provided feedback at the workshop, as did the Supervisors.


Brent Ainsworth
Public Information Specialist
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3084
Email: Brent Ainsworth
County Administrator website