Marin County will tap standby reservoir

Marin County water officials have decided to tap one of their standby reservoirs on Mt. Tamalpais due to the lack of rain.
January 15, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The severe water shortage is forcing Marin County to consider drastic action. Reservoirs are well below normal levels because of the drought. So on Thursday water officials will be tapping one of their standby reservoirs, Phoenix Lake on Mt. Tam. It's something that hasn't been done for years.

Some restaurants in San Rafael are limiting water by not providing glasses of water because of the possibility of water rationing, looming in the coming months. Reservoirs are at only half of capacity with no rain in sight.

You won't find water glasses already on the tables at San Rafael Joe's on Fourth Street. Customers like San Anselmo resident Sandy Kim have to ask if they want water with their meal.

"My use of water I've cut down a little bit. I take shorter showers, but I still drink a lot of water," said Kim.

The restaurant decided to stop the automatic water servings about a week ago and it's seen a slight drop in water requests.

"Our understanding is it requires about seven glasses of water for every glass of water you serve in order to clean the glass, plus the water of course that you've served. It just makes sense with the water shortage and lack of rain to save as much water as we can," said Johnny Smith from San Rafael Joe's.

It's gotten so serious that beginning Thursday, the Marin Municipal Water District will start pumping water out of Phoenix Lake on Mt. Tamalpais, one of its two reserve reservoirs. The lake will drop about 20 feet over the next month.

"We did use it briefly two years ago when we had a short dry spell, but we haven't used it as a water supply for about 20 years," said Libby Pischel from the Marin Municipal Water District.

If the water levels don't improve by April, Marin might do something it hasn't done since 1991-- impose rationing.

"Well it's something that we're certainly looking at, but we haven't made a decision at this point," said Pischel.

"I don't think it's going to hurt anybody if they need to ration. I think people should ration because we use water like crazy," said Jennifer Hynes, a San Rafael resident.

For now, Marin is asking for voluntary conservation.


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