Dick Spotswood: Exploring options to increase supply only part of charge for water agenciesThe welcome arch spanning the main street of downtown...

Dick Spotswood: Exploring options to increase supply only part of charge for water agenciesThe welcome arch spanning the main street of downtown...Dick Spotswood: Exploring options to increase supply only part of charge for water agencies
The welcome arch spanning the main street of downtown Modesto is telling: “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.”

Note that “water” leads to all of the city’s other touted benefits. That directly leads us to Marin where lack of water, along with its natural cousin known as wildland fire, are the future.

Marin’s Environmental Forum reminds us, “the past 16 months was the county’s driest period in 140 years. Current reservoir storage capacity is less than 50%, whereas it’s usually 90% at this time of year.”

Geography is part of the dilemma. Much of our water supply comes from Sonoma County, which faces the same drought as Marin. Marin Municipal Water District buys 25% of its water from the Russian River and 80% of North Marin Water District’s supply originates in Sonoma. Nor is the rest of Northern California awash with excess water. The combination of cyclical wet years and climate change is a statewide phenomenon which represents the state’s new normal.

Marin’s two water agencies have a duty to explore all options to increase water supply while promoting conservation to expand the utility of the water we have.

The MMWD, branded as “Marin Water,” has been outstanding in promoting water conservation. They’ve pushed “water-wise” conservation tips for landscapers, free water-efficient fixtures, rebates and incentive programs to encourage efficient use of what we have. It’s worthwhile, but insufficient to get its customers through an era of drought.

The obvious alternative is desalination. The question is whether it’s the next best alternative or instead an aspirational concept not ready to be an efficient, cost-effective source of substantial water.

Either way, desal needs to be included in all advanced water generation portfolios.