By Mark PradoMarin Independent Journal
- Aug 16:
- Marin Voice: North Marin water users need to continue conservation efforts
- Aug 7:
- Marin water officials unfazed by downgraded El Niño predictions
- Aug 3:
- Marin water-wasters will soon get a nudge from WaterSmart
- Jul 25:
- Q&A: WaterSmart CEO Peter Yolles, on tracking your water conservation
- Water restrictions backed by 75 percent of Californians, poll says; Marin residents agree
- Jul 18:
- George Russell: New scrutiny for Jack, Jill and that pail of water
- Jul 15:
- State water board approves proposal to slap hefty fines on water wasters
- Jul 13:
- Marin water officials contemplate state proposal to slap fines on water wasters
- Jun 22:
- Marin water managers: Residents saving more than what state says
- Jun 9:
- Drought limits summer water releases from Mt. Tam reservoir
- Jun 6:
- El Niño coming, but drought impact might be minimal
- May 21:
- Marin Municipal Water District holds off on easing conservation percentage
- May 2:
- Panel explores drought's impacts on small business
- Apr 28:
- Forum to air impact of drought on Marin's small businesses
- Apr 27:
- Some Marin residents answer to the drought: drill, baby, drill
- Apr 24:
- Study links California drought to global warming
- Apr 20:
- Editorial: Saving water is a goal we must all share
- Apr 10:
- Marin water crunch was eased by late winter, spring rains
- Apr 1:
- Voluntary 20 percent cutback adopted for Novato North Marin Water District customers
- Mar 3:
- A month of wet weather buoys Marin's reservoirs as new storm approaches
- Feb 28:
- Heavy rain arrives in Marin and Bay Area, easing drought fears
- Feb 24:
- Rain this week, possible El Niño next winter
- Feb 23:
- Rain coming, drought staying
- Feb 18:
- Marin homeowners compelled to combine water conservation with renovation
- Feb 15:
- California drought: Why is there no mandatory water rationing?
- Feb 10:
- Rains buoy Marin reservoirs, help coho
- Mt. Tam gets 21 inches of rain as three Marin reservoirs spill
- Feb 9:
- 'Pineapple Express' soaks, floods, delights Marin
- Feb 8:
- Marin soaks up much-needed rainfall as a 'river' of a storm soaks the county
- Marin Voice: 'Carbon farming' and Marin's drought
- Feb 6:
- Novato to store water for the rest of Marin to maximize supplies in dry year
- Marin forecast: Wet, wild 'Pineapple Express' weekend
- Feb 5:
- Rain headed to Marin; weekend storm brewing
- Feb 4:
- Novato residents asked to cut water use by 20 percent
- National Weather Service: More rain likely on the way to Marin
- Feb 3:
- Marin vineyard owners concerned about drought, preparing for fewer wine grapes
- More rain coming to Marin this week
- Feb 2:
- Marin homeowners slash water usage through creative conservation
- Marin's Sunday rainstorm not expected to last
- Jan 31:
- Drought shakes off winter for early perilous spring; Marin records record low rainfall for January
- Editorial: Make it easy to track our water conservation
- Jan 30:
- Weak storm system provides Marin with a drop in the bucket
- Jan 29:
- Drizzle brings hope to thirsty California but does nothing to deter drought
- Jan 28:
- California drought: 17 communities could run out of water within 60 to 120 days, state says
- Mandatory water rationing in Marin likely April 1, water officials say
- Jan 26:
- Lib at Large: Drought scares West Marin's 'Cheese Sisters'
- Jan 25:
- California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say
- Marin County plans drought summit
- Marin looks north for needed water supplies as drought continues
- Jan 21:
- Marin Municipal Water District asks public for a larger cut in water use
- California drought: Tips for conserving water
- Jan 20:
- MMWD to call for voluntary 20 percent water reduction
- Jan 14:
- Dry days drag on: The science behind the drought
- Jan 11:
- Marin Voice: Marin can't afford to waste water
- Jan 6:
- Warm, dry weather good for Marin golf courses, but drought concerns linger
- Jan 4:
- George Russell: Will turn of calendar bring change in weather?
- Dec 31:
- Marin records driest year ever in 2013
The Marin Municipal Water District is looking at the idea of putting a $45 million pipeline on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to keep Marin wet in dry years.
If that sounds familiar, the water district did just that in the 1970s.
A temporary, 6-mile pipeline was placed on the upper deck of the bridge along the shoulder during the drought of 1976-77, and water was pumped from the East Bay to save the county from going dry. The pipeline was removed in May 1982 after the threat of drought passed.
Now, as Marin looks for new sources of water to guard against another drought or catastrophic event, the idea of putting a permanent pipeline on the span to tap into East Bay Municipal Utility District supplies is being discussed.
It was MMWD's Drought Resiliency Task Force Committee that identified the pipeline as an option in April. When the water board met last week it was poised to approve a $256,000 feasibility study, but took it off the agenda for future consideration.
But in addition to conservation, expanding its recycled water program and desalination, the district appears ready to look closely at the bridge pipeline.
"Staff believes water supply diversification and regional interconnectivity will be essential to improve our district's ability to respond to droughts, climate change impact and catastrophic events," Jon LaHaye, the water district's principal engineer, told the board. "The more options you have for water supply the better."
The project would see about 7 miles of pipe on the bridge as well as both sides of the span and provide 5 million gallons of water a day.
Under emergency conditions the pipeline could deliver up to 460-acre feet of water per month. One acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.
The 24-inch steel pipe would be put on a yet undetermined locale on the span, although on either of the roadways is unlikely. A pump station in Richmond would have to be built on the east side of the span, while the pipeline would connect to the water district's San Quentin pump station on the west, although it may need upgrades to get water into the system. The project could be done by 2018.
On paper, the pipeline would be cheaper than desalination. That option — to de-salt water from San Rafael Bay for home use— was estimated to cost $115 million to produce roughly the same amount of water.
Board member Cynthia Koehler said she had "concerns" about the pipeline plan, but said there are reasons to study it as long as conservation is top of mind.
"It's important that we talk about this in the context of the broader conversation of a more aggressive approach to water-use efficiency," she said.
This is not the first time the pipeline has been revisited. In 2007, Caltrans and the water district met to discuss a pipeline across the span, but nothing came of the talks.
When the drought hit Marin in 1976-77, the county was within 120 days of going dry. The county averages about 52 inches of rainfall a year, measured from July through June. In 1975-76, the county received 22 inches of rain, and in 1976-77, some 25 inches fell, leaving reservoirs close to empty. The pipeline saved the day.
Dietrich Stroeh, the water district's general manager at that time, came up with the idea. He backs a new pipeline.
"Any opportunity to get any type of water, even for emergencies or for surplus, is good," he said. "And this makes more sense than desalination."
Contact Mark Prado via email at firstname.lastname@example.org