Marin Water District imposes stricter rules after latest drought figures

CORTE MADERA, Calif. (KTVU) -- Reservoir levels are 93 percent full according to the Marin Municipal Water District staff, but the Board still voted unanimously Tuesday night to impose stricter conservation rules.

The new restrictions will require that the district's 185,000 customers comply with the mandatory statewide regulations issued by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The burst of April showers Tuesday came down hard and fast, bringing about 1.5 inches to the Marin Municipal Water District region. Then, just as quickly the rain clouds cleared, leaving drops of precious water dousing lawns in the North Bay still green and lush, for now.

At the State Water Board meeting in Sacramento, a sobering report on usage showed that Californians only conserved 2.8 percent in February, falling far short of Governor Brown's new order for 25 percent mandatory cuts statewide.

Max Gomberg of the State Water Resources Control Board said they are working quickly to develop regulations before the hot summer months hit. 

"And want to urge the urban water suppliers to begin implementing their conservation measures now," he said.

Marin Municipal Water District staff say they must implement the state's mandatory water restrictions even though their reservoirs are 102 percent of average. The Marin district, which covers the area from San Rafael south to the Golden Gate Bridge, doesn't rely on state water.

"Our customers on average have achieved about a 12 percent so it's not quite to the max, " said Libby Peschel, a spokeswoman for the Marin Municipal Water District.

At Tuesday's meeting in Corte Madera, dozens of residents voiced concerns about the drought conditions. Some said the Marin Water District Board isn't being strict enough. Others said regulations could be unfair to those already conserving every drop.

"We already are prohibited from irrigating from 7 p.m. til 9 a.m." said Alexander Binick, a Fairfax resident who urged the Board to consider impacts on those who've installed drip irrigation systems.

The board unanimously passed an ordinance limiting irrigation to three times a week and banning irrigation 48 hours after measureable precipitation.

Rich Siefert says that should be fine for his Greenbrae yard, which he converted to native plants and drip irrigation last year.

"It's just part of the reality of the situation. We haven't had the rain, we haven't had the water," said Siefert.

Marin and every other water district in the Bay Area expect to get their marching orders from the State Water Board in the next ten days. The regulations likely will vary depending on each district, meaning customers could face different cuts depending on where they live.