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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Mar 25

FAQ: Can MMWD Build Bigger Reservoirs?

Posted on March 25, 2016 at 4:26 PM by Ann Vallee

Especially  in  a  rainy  year  like  this  one,  customers  ask  if  we  can  enlarge  our  reservoirs to hold more water by raising the dams. While creating additional storage may seem like good insurance against drought, it is not as simple as it sounds.

MMWD’s rights to divert and store water are granted by the State of California. The state has authority over how much water we can legally take from our local creeks to store in our reservoirs. As part of our agreement with the state, MMWD is required to maintain a certain amount of water in the creeks for fish habitat. This means  we  actually  release  water  every  year  from  our  reservoirs  into  the  creeks,  but  with  good  reason.  Endangered  coho  salmon  and  other  species  living  in  the  creeks need an adequate flow of water to ensure their health and survival. In 1980, when the district last requested state permission to expand storage, the result was 15 years of studies and hearings prior to reaching a court-ordered agreement that required  us  to  release  more water  annually.  In  summary,  since  the  state  will  not  allow MMWD to divert and store more water, increasing the size of our reservoirs would not provide any benefit.

The  simplest  and  least  expensive  way  we  can  maximize  our  water  supply  is  through conservation, not by creating new or bigger reservoirs. That’s why we ask our customers to use water wisely and why we offer a variety of conservation programs and rebates to help. Thank you for doing your part!

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