We're in another drought, and likely within the next month or two we will be hearing about water-use rules and neighbors tattling on neighbors for washing their cars all over the Bay Area. But right now, the only county making mandatory restrictions official is Marin County.
Because Marin County relies on reservoirs in the coastal range for its drinking water, and not on water from the Sierra like much of the Bay Area, it's in particularly bad shape already, supply-wise. As KPIX reports, the county's water supply is already around half of what it should be at this time of year, with reservoirs having gotten about half their typical amount of rainfall.
That has prompted the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) to announce mandatory water-use restrictions that take effect May 1. The district provides water to Central and Southern Marin, and as of next month, residents served by the district will need to stop washing their cars at home, only water lawns once a week, and refrain from refilling backyard pools.
First offenses get off with a warning, but violators will be fined $25 for a second offense, and the fines go up from there to $250.
The last time California saw drought-related water restrictions was in the spring and summer of 2015, and it was a statewide order that separated counties into different tiers of leniency — sound familiar? San Francisco was in the most lenient tier, which required a conservation level of 8% — and counties that exceeded their conservation goal could qualify to move to an even more lenient 4% tier.
Remember those goofy ads from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission encouraging conservation?
Lawns are going to start to turn brown this summer, and you can expect A LOT of local news stories on the topic of water usage and various bad actors. Also, there will probably be another wave of commentary on social media about how the Central Valley sucks up all the state's water with their almond trees, which isn't entirely true.
"It’s the driest year in 90 years," says WaterNow Alliance Director and MMWD Board President Cynthia Koehler, speaking to KPIX. "It’s not quite record-breaking but we’ve had an incredibly low amount of rain. You just have to walk around the watershed to see what the situation is so."
Governor Gavin Newsom is also expected to address the drought Wednesday, and announced state actions to "bolster California’s resilience to drought and support vulnerable communities, local economies and ecosystems."
Photo: Elly Johnson