ROSS (CBS SF) - The Marin Municipal Water District started pumping water Thursday from a reserve reservoir into its water distribution system because of the ongoing dry weather.
Over the next 30 days, water will be pumped out of Phoenix Lake and into the district's Bon Tempe Treatment Plant in the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, MMWD spokeswoman Libby Pischel said.
Marin County Begins Using Water From Reserve Reservoir
The water will go into the distribution system for the district, which serves about 185,000 customers in central and southern Marin County, Pischel said.
The pumping will cause the water level at Phoenix Lake, located near the town of Ross, to drop by about 20 feet, Pischel said.
The district also is preparing the Soulajule Reservoir pumps for activation in the spring, Pischel said. That reservoir is located west of Novato.
The district relies on seven local reservoirs for 75 percent of its water. The Sonoma County Water Agency provides the additional 25 percent from the Russian River. A winter water conservation effort is already under way in Sonoma County.
There is some flexibility in the Marin water district's contract with the Sonoma County Water Agency that allows Marin to receive a little more than 25 percent if needed, Pischel said.
Because of the record low rainfall since last January, the Marin water district's reservoirs are well below their average level, at 55 percent of capacity, Pischel said. Typically by this time, the reservoirs are at 77 percent of capacity, she said.
The district has already called for voluntary conservation measures, and may need to begin mandatory cutbacks on April 1 depending on the storage levels in the reservoirs, Pischel said.
The district's total storage on April 1 of any given year averages about 73,400 acre-feet. One acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons.
As of Jan. 12, the reservoirs contained 43,943 acre-feet of water, Pischel said. If the storage capacity is below 40,000 acre-feet come April 1 of this year, the district may enact mandatory water restrictions in order to reduce overall water usage by 25 percent, Pischel said.
MMWD started preparing for a dry spell last spring when it began maximizing the use of Russian River water and water from the Nicasio Reservoir, which fills up more quickly than the six other reservoirs, Pischel said.
The district also maximized the use of recycled water for the 2013 irrigation season, reinstated rebates for water-conserving toilets, clothes washers and irrigation controls, and reprioritized repairing leaks in its water distribution system, Pischel said.
This year, the district launched a water conservation outreach program and canceled the annual water quality flushing of the distribution system, Pischel said.
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