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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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Apr 10

Water Week

Posted on April 10, 2015 at 1:20 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

 The girls in the snow
 The girls in the snow
Did you know that Water Week nearly slipped by me without any acknowledgement? While I almost missed the mark about sharing this celebrated event from April 12-18, Mother Nature was on top of it with the unexpected reminder of rainy days in Marin County this week. Those of us in the high country experienced snow storms on Easter day and again on Tuesday. Who would have thought of singing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Easter"? All the way around, it was like manna from heaven!

Did you wish for a bigger storm Tuesday to make more of an impact in your garden? Or can the 1 inch of rain that fell be treated in a big way? In other words, how can you make the most of the water that falls and extend its benefits beyond the duration of the rain shower? Rain penetrating deeper than the root zone—or running off your property—is lost to the good of your plants. Harvesting that water and using it where and when you want gives you more "bang for the buck" from each storm.

Many of you may already have a rain barrel, or you may be thinking about purchasing one and getting a rebate from MMWD. A rain barrel is great for watering a few container plants. But collecting water from your roof will require something more formidable, like a water tank or water pillows that can be hidden under a deck or under the house. (Be sure to check local building codes.) Each type of containment requires a level surface for installation. There are also standing modular systems available that form a water-filled fence with rain collected from your roof. More modules can be added as your needs grow. Keep in mind, each module will carry close to 500 pounds of water, so a sturdy support system is required to keep the modules secure when met with such forces as high winds.

If you are thinking of adding some type of rainwater collection system, it would be wise to carefully consider the amount of water you can collect from your roof. Just one inch of rain falling on a 1,000-square-foot roof will realize 600 gallons! A typical rain barrel holds 55 gallons of water, so the excess 545 gallons will require an exit point or risk flooding the area around the barrel. By knowing the amount of water your roof will collect, you can reduce this risk by installing a passive waterway such as a French drain to filter the water gradually into your landscape.

 Roof rainwater falling on open ground
 Roof rainwater falling on open ground
Since moving to Lassen County, Jack and I have discussed the need for added water storage. The drought has forced us to look closer at options other than our well to sustain us and all our critters. It was time to do the math. Luckily, due to snow loads, our roofs are metal, which is ideal for rainwater catchment. The barn roof is 44 feet wide and 100 feet long. If we received one inch of rainfall, that roof would capture over 2,700 gallons of water. Our location in Lassen rarely experiences more than an inch of rain at a time, so we are choosing to purchase a 2,500-gallon tank just for the barn roof. The excess water can be diverted into the horses' pasture area. It is just one more step towards maximizing water use.

Let's think more efficiently during this drought. Look around your home for simple or even more complex ways to conserve this precious commodity called water. With new irrigation regulations now in effect, next week we will cover ways to maximize the efficiency of your irrigation run times.


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