Conservation programs may help water rationing

May 13, 2008 12:45:27 PM PDT
The Marin Municipal Water District announced this morning that its customers will likely avoid water rationing this year if they conserve water with a water-saving gardening program and other methods.

Reversing a wet January and February, March and April produced the driest spring since 1879 when the district began keeping records, the district's general manager Paul Helliker said in a written statement. He said district customers should not get complacent and conservation is more important than ever.

Just two-thirds of an inch of water fell on the Mt. Tamalpais watershed in March and April compared to an average 11.3 inches, the district said. The previous dry record was in 1934 when March and April rainfall was 1.2 inches, according to the district.

The district's water customers reacted to the dry April this year with earlier and heavier watering, raising April's water consumption to the highest level in 20 years, the district said.

Helliker said two consecutive dry winters constitute an official drought. The district noted the East Bay Municipal Water District is poised to impose mandatory water rationing this week.

That won't be the case in Marin because the district's reservoirs are at normal levels, district officials said.

The district is pushing for more sustainable water consumption and is offering rebates of up to $350 on irrigation equipment and other incentives. Half the summer water use goes for irrigation, the district said.

The district has partnered with Marin Master Gardeners, a program of the University of California Cooperative Extension. The "Bay-Friendly Residential Garden Walks" program offers homeowners and renters a free, one-hour visit by two UC-certified master gardeners who will access landscaping and make stops at the water meter, valve box and irrigation system timer.

The assessment also includes testing all irrigation system components and preparing a list of recommendations to fix outstanding issues. The $350 rebate applies to any irrigation system upgrades.

The district also will send a water conservation specialist to homes and businesses for a free water use efficiency survey of indoor and outdoor water use.

Also available is a free, large landscape water use survey and evaluation of parks, golf courses, schools, homeowners associations and other common landscape areas.

The district also updates its weekly watering schedule on its Web site every Friday based on real-time weather conditions. The updates state how much water plants need and how often they need water in the county's three different climate zones. A weekly e-mail reminder also is available.

Other rebates are available for high-efficiency toilets and urinals, energy efficient clothes washers and commercial dishwashers and Bay-friendly landscaping and dedicated irrigation accounts.

More information is available at www.marinwater.org or by calling (415) 945-1520.


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