New water rules congeal for North Marin and 
Marin Municipal

05/07/2015

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation to ensure local water districts reduce water usage across the state by 25 percent, a target that was ordered by Governor Jerry Brown last month. This week, the board released draft regulations that widened the range of percentages under which local agencies must meet certain benchmarks for cutting back water use as compared to 2013. The cutbacks range from 4 percent to 36 percent, depending on the size of the agency and the amount of water its clients consume. (To set benchmarks, the board computed a metric that calculated percentages based on daily per-person water usage from July to September of 2014.) North Marin Water District will have to reduce water use by 24 percent compared to 2013, and Marin Municipal Water District must reduce by 20 percent. Both districts will have to abide by rules that prohibit irrigation between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., the watering of sidewalks or driveways, and hoses without shut-off nozzles; the rules also limit outdoor watering to two days a week. Separately, North Marin will vote in late June to increase its service rate by five percent for West Marin customers, effective July 1. Revenue generated from the rate increase will go toward financing capital projects, such as replacing a water tank destroyed during the 1995 Mount Vision wildfire and improving the district’s backwash filtration system. According to the district’s manager, Chris DeGabriele, costs for these projects will amount to nearly $2 million. West Marin customers—in Point Reyes Station, Olema, Bear Valley, Inverness Park and Paradise Ranch Estates—who consume 59,100 gallons of water annually will pay an extra $2.26 each month. Those who consume less than that amount will see a smaller increase in their bill. Oceana Marin in Dillon Beach customers will see a $3 monthly increase. The proposed rate increase—which will be heard during a public meeting on June 30 at the Dance Palace—comes on the heels of a flurry of water-related activities in the state. Last month, an appellate court in Orange County affirmed a lower court’s decision that tiered water rates in San Juan Capistrano were not tied directly to service costs, in violation of state law. Though many observers in California wondered whether the court’s ruling could hamper attempts by local agencies in counties across the state to disincentivize large water use, Mr. DeGabriele brushed aside the notion that the ruling would have any impact on N.M.W.D. “It’s specific to San Juan Capistrano,” Mr. DeGabriele said. “We don’t believe that that applies to us.”