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!