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Jan 06

By the Numbers

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on January 6, 2017 at 1:44 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

Let's face it: It is cold outside, and my idea of the perfect way to pass the time is to sit in front of a roaring fireplace with a warm beverage and good book instead of facing the biting chill. My vacation time in Bend, Oregon, with my son and grandchildren found me doing just that. The roads were covered in ice and several feet of snow. Despite the weather, the brave-souled kids still managed a trek up to Mt. Bachelor for snowboarding. Meanwhile, good books and baking held this grandmother inside the warm house.

One of the books I read told the history of Nevada miners working in a very remote and arid environment. The conditions were so tough that they could collect no more than 53 gallons of water per family per week. At first my eyes skimmed over these figures, until it dawned on me that this was not per person per day, but per family per week. The book said they did without bathing and irrigation. I could only imagine it would take more than just eliminating those two items!

Reading this account was a reminder of how fortunate we are to have safe, reliable water delivered to our taps 24/7. It also was a reminder about not taking this precious resource for granted. When rain is falling from the sky and our reservoirs are full, conservation may be far from mind. But wet or dry, conservation should be a way of life. I am certain everyone’s irrigation system is turned off now, but where else can we look for water savings?

A 2016 U.S. study found that the biggest indoor water use is toilet flushing, which consumes an average of 33.1 gallons per household per day (gphd). This is followed by showers (28.1 gphd), faucets (26.3 gphd), clothes washing (22.7 gphd) and leaks (17.0 gphd). To get the biggest bang for your buck, start by replacing older showerheads with new high-efficiency models and adding aerators to your faucets. Both are available for free from our office at 220 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera. To help with replacing the more expensive items, MMWD offers rebates for high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, as well as many other products. 

And while picking up your showerhead and aerator at MMWD, don’t forget to pick up free dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks, as toilet leaks can account for thousands of gallons of lost water per month. Wouldn’t those old miners have made good use of that amount of water!
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! 
Jun 17

Landscaper Conversations

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on June 17, 2016 at 10:12 AM by Ann Vallee

My former boss at MMWD, Denis Poggio, called me this week to check in on how things are here in Lassen. Our conversation soon turned to landscaping, which is no surprise since both our passions fall into this realm.

drip system
Have you inspected your irrigation system lately?
Irrigation was the focus of our discussion and the potential water savings that can be realized with an efficiently running system. He spoke of the detailed inspection he just performed on his own drip system. It was a system he deemed very functional … until he realized it was emitting water in areas that didn't need it due to a leak at a connection. One repair lead to another as he discovered further leaks and flaws during his investigation. Despite his findings, the plants were still getting water. Denis knew utilizing a drip system was efficient for his garden, but the leaks made it ineffective for water savings. His mission soon corrected the breaks and leaks.

This exercise shows why we both believe routine system checks are critical. We tend to forget that irrigation systems are as mechanical as our cars. Every 5,000 miles the oil needs to be changed on my car. Timing belts, brakes, tires, and other mechanical parts require equal attention to maintain a safe and well-functioning vehicle. While safety is not so much an issue with irrigation, proper maintenance has everything to do with it all functioning well.

Have you inspected your irrigation system lately? It requires a bit of sleuthing but can reveal interesting tidbits that can help you save water. By ensuring that the proper amount of water is getting to the root zones, regular inspections can save your plants as well.

Start the examination by turning on each valve individually, then follow the water! After a valve is turned on, check to see if there is any water escaping where it shouldn't be. Check for water leaking around the valve or at the base of each sprinkler head. Are you sprinklers reaching out and irrigating to the other sprinkler nozzles close by? That is good head to head coverage! If not, what do you need to do to make that happen? Or are your sprinklers shooting out into the street or a neighbor's yard? Correct by adjusting the direction the nozzle is pointing. If you have a drip system, check for emitters that may have popped off. See if the connectors are tight and the end caps are secured. Also be certain that emitters aren't clogged, preventing water from reaching your plants.

After you follow the water on one valve, turn it off and go to the next valve until all irrigation in the garden has been inspected. A good job and water saved!

With that said, it just started raining outside and my sprinklers are running! Rain shutoff devices are needed!