County of Marin - News Releases - Drought Declaration

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2021

Board Declares Drought Emergency in Marin

Water districts provide update on conditions and conservation

San Rafael, CA – After hearing details about Marin County’s dry conditions and water supplies, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 18 to declare a local emergency and acknowledge the imminent threat of disaster.

Cattle walk in a pasture with ranch buildings in the background.With far less vegetation for grazing because of the drought, animals on Marin ranches and farms are eating imported feed shipped from other states.

The declaration acknowledges the extent and impacts of the drought in Marin, already severely affecting dairies and ranchers in West Marin, and makes Marin eligible for California Disaster Assistance and other forms of state funding and resources. It also provides temporarily new authorities to aid response and recovery efforts available to the County, water suppliers, farmers, impacted businesses and residents.

Marin Water, the municipal water district serving the majority of water customers in Marin County, joined with the Novato-based North Marin Water District (NMWD) to update the Board on drought conditions. Both districts have declared water shortage emergencies and enacted mandatory conservation measures. Cumulative rainfall figures are lower than they were during the historic drought of 1976-77, and water storage levels at some local reservoirs are at their lowest levels since 1984.

“You only have to drive by Nicasio Dam or Stafford Lake to see the dire conditions we are facing for water supply this year,” said Board President Dennis Rodoni, who, among others, represents the farmers and ranchers of West Marin. “Drought conditions are the worst we have seen in over 140 years in Marin. Please take this drought and recommendations from the water agencies seriously.”

Rodoni asked residents to support local agricultural producers who have affected by the drought as well as the pandemic. Ranchers have been importing water by truck to keep their animals alive and reducing their herds. With far less vegetation for grazing because of the drought, animals are eating imported feed shipped from other states at high costs to the ranchers.

“Drought knows no boundaries,” said Acting Agriculture Commissioner Stefan Parnay. “This is a communitywide, regional crisis.”

“Please support our local growers whenever possible,” Rodoni said. “We are trying to find sources of water to help out, but the truth is we can only wring out so much water from this dry land. We will continue to support agriculture in any way we can. While we will have plenty of water for the health and safety of our families, it so important at this time we do not waste any water.”

On May 10, Governor Gavin Newsom expanded California’s drought emergency to 41 out of 58 counties. Marin was not on the list, although Sonoma County – an important source of water for Marin customers – has been under a state of emergency since April 21 because of dry conditions within the Russian River watershed.

Marin Water serves more than 191,000 customers in central and southern Marin. NWMD serves a customer base of about 64,000 in and around Novato, Point Reyes Station, Olema, Bear Valley, Inverness Park, and Paradise Ranch Estates. For localized details, see the water rules webpages for Marin Water and NMWD.

Newsom recently proposed a $5.1 billion package of immediate drought response and long-term water resilience investments to address immediate emergency needs, build regional capacity to endure drought and safeguard water supplies for communities, the economy, and the environment.


Daniel Eilerman
Assistant County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7364
Email: Daniel Eilerman
County Administrator website