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Dec 28

Green Resolutions

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM by Ann Vallee

by Christina Mountanos, Water Conservation Specialist

In addition to my typical New Year's resolutions to sleep, exercise and floss more, I've been making small changes to do my part to help the environment the past few years. Since we're already pretty frugal in my household with water, I typically focus on saving energy. We purchased a heating blanket for our bedroom last year, so we no longer heat the entire room. This year, we put "sweeps" under our doors and bought a new energy-efficient refrigerator. I often find that these changes, ones that don't even require daily practice, help me conserve year round with no ongoing effort.

Along the same lines, if there were actions you could take right now to save water would you do them? What if you could do something that only took a single day of work, a few hours, or even seconds? Here is a list of simple "green resolutions" you can implement this year:

  • Double-check that your irrigation controller is in the OFF position for the winter.
  • Use a simple shower timer to become aware of how long you're typically in there. Set a goal of five minutes or less.
  • Locate your water meter and spend a few minutes checking for any movement. Learn more about how to use your water meter to check for leaks.
  • Locate the main shut-off valves to your house and irrigation system so you'll know how to quickly shut off the water if a leak should occur. 
  • Put a shut-off nozzle on your garden hose.
  • Use food coloring or dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks. Find step-by-step instructions here.
  • Replace an old toilet with a new, more efficient model. (We have rebates!)
  • Check if your showerheads are efficient, and replace any that have a flow rate of more than 2.0 gallons per minute. (To check the flow rate, turn on the shower and catch the water in a 1-gallon bucket. If it takes less than 30 seconds to fill the bucket, the flow rate is more than 2.0 gallons per minute and the showerhead should be replaced.)
Regardless of the significant rainfall we've received so far this year, fresh water is still a limited resource. We are fortunate to have a fresh, clean supply available to us, ready for our use at any given timehelp us conserve it.

Happy New Year! 
Dec 02

The Wrappings

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 2, 2016 at 9:10 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

A conversation among friends yesterday had me awake in the wee hours this morning. The discussion centered around wrapping presents. In my dream state, however, the thoughts focused not on wrapping gifts, but water pipes! Just before I went to bed, the newscasters had foretold of temperatures plummeting into the teens here in Lassen County. 

But strangely, my midnight musings were not about the ranch here but haunting memories of freezing temperatures experienced in years past in Marin. You might ask, why the concern wouldn't be as great in snow country? The outdoor hose bibs we use in Lassen are constructed differently than those found in Marin. In the middle of the frost-proof pipe is a type of plunger that pushes the water down below the frozen ground so the pipes don't burst. This type of assembly eliminates the need to wrap the pipes.

In Marin, where winter temperatures are a bit warmer, regular hose bibs are the norm. However, winter temperatures in Marin are known to drop below freezing. Those low temperatures can cause exposed hose bibs and water pipes to freeze and burst, resulting in water spewing freely until the water is shut off and the pipes are repaired. 
pipe insulation
 Pipe insulation
There are several things you can do to prevent those nightmares. First, wrap pipes that are exposed to the outdoors. The hardware stores carry a foam insulated tube that slides around pipe. After wrapping, secure the slit in the foam using duct tape to hold the foam in place. This simple procedure takes just a few minutes.

If you have a backflow device on your property, cover it with a special blanket made for protecting the device from freezing weather. If a backflow blanket is not available, an old blanket or sleeping bag will work equally well.

If your pipes do freeze and burst, you'll want to turn off the water promptly to prevent water waste and damage to your property. Hopefully, whoever installed the irrigation or plumbing on the property installed a shut-off valve after the meter. If you can’t turn off the water yourself, call MMWD’s 24-hour emergency line at 415-945-1500 and we’ll send someone to turn it off at the meter. 

If you find you don't have a shut-off valve after the meter and another where your irrigation valve system begins, it's worth installing them. This step will save you time and trouble over the long run, allowing you to work on any future plumbing or irrigation problems without the need to turn off water to the entire property.

Be prepared for those cold winter nights so you won't be awakened by thoughts of wrappings that do not constitute gift-giving.

Aug 30

What Can You Do?

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on August 30, 2016 at 11:42 AM by Ann Vallee

by Dan Carney, Water Conservation Manager

Some things are out of our control—rain, for instance. But the way you use water is totally up to you. Did you know that landscape plants will need 20% less water in September compared to August, and 40% less in October? It’s true! The autumnal equinox on September 22 marks a major shift in evapotranspiration rates (a measure of how much water evaporates from the soil and transpires through plants' leaves). In water conservation lingo, these are the "shoulder months" when plant water demand drops significantly as the days grow shorter.

So what does this mean for you? If you’ve been watering your landscape three days a week in August, for example, switch to watering two days a week between now and October and realize a 33% water savings—very good for the reservoirs and your pocketbook, too.

Maybe this water year (July 1 – June 30) the reservoirs will fill again, and then again, maybe not. Marin is fortunate that our seven reservoirs filled in the past two years, but since MMWD only has a two-year water supply even when the reservoirs fill, water conservation has to be a permanent way of life.

MMWD staff can help you get ready for this fall season. To book a free water survey, get rebates, and for assistance with your water-wise landscape, please check out the many services available to you today by visiting, or give us a call at 415-945-1520.