San Anselmo Creek remains at very low levels

January 20, 2012 12:23:04 AM PST
Rain has finally arrived to the Bay Area after a very dry winter so far. San Anselmo Creek is usually a place where we show you how much it's been raining, but this year we were able to walk down to the bottom of it. The creek is two feet deep; flood stage is 13 feet.

In Downtown San Anselmo, those who know the place well have noticed a missing element this winter -- sandbags. There wasn't one in sight. Even in wet seasons, San Anselmo residents tend to worry much less about flooding than the rest of the world worries for them. Oh sure, at Three Wheel Cyclery, owner Lindsay McKenzie has storm gates at the ready, but they're still gathering dust because the town's infamous creek is barely a trickle, with most of last fall's leaves still unmoved by hydrology. Storms are coming, but so far it has been a case of deny, deny, deny.

"We've had great weather. This is the equation becoming balanced. I've probably had more days on the bike and on the surfboard from October, November, December than ever before. And we're supposed to embrace the rain," said San Anselmo resident Austin Murphy. When asked if he is embracing the rain, he replied, "Hell no."

But the local water districts will. The most dramatic pictures come from Stafford Lake at only 30 percent capacity, but that's normal for this time of year. Most North Bay water agencies are about 4 percent below normal for all their supplies, but the ground remains dry with little chance for immediate runoff.

When asked if water rationing entered the vernacular, Chris DeGabriele from the North Marin Water District, said, "Not yet, about 80 percent of Novato's water supply is from the Russian River and storage reservoirs there are at 80 percent of capacity."

So, dry as it has seemed, it's about to end. In back-to-back years, it has gone from one extreme to another.

"It is not just going to rain harder. It is going to rain until June. I can sense it," said Murphy.

It's been six years since Downtown San Anselmo was flooded and officials have done a lot of work on the creek so that businesses don't get flooded so badly again.