Marin eyes pipeline across Richmond Bridge as drought worsens

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Friday, June 11, 2021
Marin eyes pipeline across Richmond Bridge as drought worsens
Marin County officials say they have less than a year of water supply and that could lead to the reinstallation of a pipe that once ran across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge to insure water delivery.

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- As summer approaches, Marin County is on the cusp of a record drought. You can see it in the dusty, dwindling reservoirs and the livestock that no longer graze on absentee grass.

And then there was Marin Wager General Manager Ben Horenstein at a meeting Wednesday night.

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"We currently have less than a year of water supply. And that is a perilous position for a water agency to be in," said Horenstein.

So, how can they get out of it?

The Richmond Bridge could, conceivably, enters into play as a last resort, with the rebuilding of a lifeline pipeline with water from the East Bay.

During the low-water-mark drought of 1976 to 1977, such a pipeline carried 10 million gallons a day to a county that would have otherwise run out in three or four months.

East Bay Mud delivered that water, which came as part of an emergency grant from the state.

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Marin has more resources, now, but State Assembly Member Marc Levine addressed the option at a meeting, recently.

"The water district is looking closely to see where we are in December," said Assemblyman Levine.

On Thursday, East Bay Mud confirmed discussions with Marin about about a new pipeline.

They took place last April.

"It really depends on what a planning study would show us and it is up to Marin to make that decision," said East Bay Mud spokesperson Andrea Pook.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom declares drought emergency for 39 California counties

Marin Municipal Water, meantime, describes those discussions as being no more than preliminary due diligence.

"Is there a plan for a study here?" we asked Water Board President Cynthia Koehler.

"Not that has been brought to the board," she said. "We would never take an option completely off the table. Our focus is on efficiency."

Marin Water is focusing on conservation by reducing outside consumption. It now offers residents $3 per square foot if they convert lawns to drought resistant landscapes.

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That's easier, and more cost effective, they say, than rebuilding a pipeline.

"There will be water next year," said Koehler, in reassurance.

But the summer is still young in year two of a major drought with no relief in sight.