Marin Experiences Worst Drought on Record

By Marina Furbush

The Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) passed a resolution requesting that all its customers reduce their water usage by 25 percent during their board meeting on January 21.

At the end of 2013 the MMWD announced that the total rainfall for the 2013 calendar year was 10.68 inches, a significant decrease from the annual average of 52 inches, and breaking the previous record low of 19 inches in 1929.

Rainfall makes up 75 percent of water supplied by the MMWD, while the other 25 percent comes from the Russian River. The MMWD serves 186,000 people in south and central Marin, including Mill Valley, Sausalito and San Rafael.

“I love warm dry days, but we need rain. [Water is used for] drinking water, household water use, agriculture, fire prevention,” English teacher Michael Levinson said. “Things could get tough really quickly.”


MAKE IT RAIN: The graph above compares the monthly rainfall in inches in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 for October through next January. It also shows the monthly average based on data collected since 1880, illustrating the severity of the drought. Each month, the average accumulates, so the statistics for January includes rain from previous months.

According to the MMWD the total amount of rain from July 1, 2013 to February 2, 2014 was 5.15 inches–compared to the historical average of 30.88 inches for that period.

Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency in California on January 17 and requested that all Californians reduce their water usage by 20 percent.

“I am very concerned about the drought and I am hopeful that this high pressure pattern will change soon,” senior Nick Henkel said. “Droughts make you very aware of our precious resources that we very often take for granted.”

If this trend continues, supply will not be able to satisfy demand. In the week of January 27, 2014, 18 million gallons were used. In the same week last year only 17.1 million gallons were used. One million gallons of water could fill 20,000 bathtubs or almost two olympic sized swimming pools.

Tam’s maintenance and operations department is already implementing strategies to conserve water this year. One way they plan to reduce their water usage is by cutting irrigation time in half, as well as by posting signs to remind students and staff to conserve water. The MMWD website,, includes more information about programs they offer to help conserve water.

The MMWB Board President Armando Quintero thanked customers for conserving water in a MMWD news release. “Our sincere thanks to customers who are already ‘super’ savers,” Quintero wrote. “‘We appreciate all that you are doing.”

Tips for Conservation


Fix leaks: Leaks are found in over one third of homes that the MMWD inspects.

Get a rebate: By installing a water saving toilet, washing machine or irrigation controllers and by following the guidelines found on MMWD’s website you can get a rebate on your purchase.

Call the MMWD for a free consultation with a water conservation expert. Schedule at (415) 945-1523 or email [email protected]

Don’t let water run while shaving, brushing teeth, rinsing dishes or lathering hands when washing them.

Only run dishwashers or washing machines with full loads and use water conserving settings if possible.

Check your water pressure and get pressure compensating shower heads and faucet aerators.

Shorten showers by 2 minutes or more.

Fill the bathtub only halfway when bathing.



Let the MMWD know if you see water running down the street.

Turn off irrigation. Only water your plants as needed. Add mulch to slow evaporation.

Set sprinklers to run between midnight and 6 a.m. so there is less evaporation or wind. Adjust sprinkler heads so that they spray on plants instead of pavement. Install a rain shutoff device on your sprinkler system.

Group together plants that need similar amounts of water.

Clean decks, sidewalks, driveways, etc with a broom instead of a hose.

Wash your car less often, or not at all. Go to car washes that recycle their water or use a hose with a shut off nozzle.

Cover pools and hot tubs to prevent evaporation.