Survey shows restrooms top priority for Point Reyes Station

06/13/2019

The majority of residents who completed a recent county survey regarding water and wastewater use and systems in Point Reyes Station identified the lack of public restrooms as a top concern, though the response rate so far is low, just 18 percent. 

Last Wednesday, county representatives presented the preliminary results of the two-month-old survey, the latest step in an initiative funded by a $49,000 grant from the California Department of Water Resources to aid communities in water resource planning. 

The deadline to fill out the survey—which asked residents questions that address specific water concerns and the desire for potential projects—was recently extended through July in the hopes of receiving more responses. The survey’s final results will be presented at a third community meeting in August. (The first meeting took place in March, and a similar process took place in Dillon Beach this spring.)  

The county hopes to use resident feedback to come up with projects that could be supported by the Integrated Regional Water Management outreach initiative, funded by Proposition 1. Lorene Jackson, the county’s project manager, presented to a small crowd of around 25 residents last week in the West Marin School gym the data from the 76 responses received so far. 

Present also to answer questions and share brief updates was Drew McIntyre, the general manager of North Marin Water District, and several other county representatives: Becky Gondola, the county’s senior environmental health specialist; Jason Olivotti, the chief county parks ranger for the northwest district; and Ben Ghisletta, a senior county fire captain. 

In response to the question of how to enhance the village’s strengths—which most who responded to the survey agreed were community character and natural beauty—60 percent favored adding public restrooms; 53 percent were in support of more affordable housing; 45 percent were interested in installing an innovative community wastewater system; and 40 percent wanted more public drinking fountains and water refill stations. Thirty percent of those surveyed selected “Leave it alone.” 

As far as concerns, residents prioritized drinking water over the state of their septic systems, and in particular, water quality, supply and taste. (To service Point Reyes Station, N.M.W.D pulls water from wells in Lagunitas Creek behind the former Coast Guard Station, not far from the end of Tomales Bay, treats if for iron manganese, chlorinates it and sends it out for distribution.) 

Mr. McIntyre said the district has enough water for the community even in drought years, he is indeed worried about salinity intrusion caused by sea-level rise. Meant to curb the district’s use of the wells at the Coast Guard site, N.M.W.D. is in the process of constructing a $300,000 well on the nearby Gallagher Ranch. 

As far as personal septic systems, 44 percent of those surveyed were concerned about the cost of repairs and upgrades. Over a third also said they pump their septic every year or other year, which Ms. Jackson said was a red flag and reflected the village’s seasonal high groundwater. Overall, the top two priority projects—each gaining support from over a third of respondents—were a feasibility study to examine the possibility of additional restrooms for visitors and another for a community wastewater system. The final meeting, held in August, will debrief the results from the survey, available at marincounty.org/depts/cd/divisions/environmental-health-services/point-reyes-station-water-project at the library.