Marin Voice: MMWD board president outlines actions, strategic rate increase
For over 110 years, the Marin Municipal Water District has delivered clean, reliable and affordable water to customers.
To maintain this record of service, we must not only increase our resilience to drought and climate change with new water supplies, but also fund the replacement and modernization of aging infrastructure and work to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on our watershed lands.
The MMWD Board of Directors, bolstered by three new members elected last November, is united with dedicated district staff, in partnership with our customers, to forge a path forward to implement the following actions.
On Feb. 28, the district adopted a water supply roadmap based on our strategic water supply assessment pairing immediate and long-term actions to increase our water supplies. Our initial commitment will develop an estimated 3,500 acre-feet of new water by the end of 2025 through several measures:
• Supply permanent power to enable increased water supplies from Soulajule Reservoir.
• Increase yield from Phoenix Lake by building a direct connection to Bon Tempe Treatment Plant.
• Improve management of water supplies and flow releases through better forecasting of storms.
• Optimize water purchases from Sonoma Water.
• Expand conservation investments to increase efficient water use.
Simultaneously, Marin Water will pursue options to achieve longer-term supply goals – this includes exploring the feasibility of groundwater banking and increases to local surface storage, enhancing local water supplies.
Most of our water comes from 22,000 acres of protected lands around Mount Tamalpais and in the hills of West Marin. Rainfall from these watersheds flows into seven reservoirs before being treated and delivered to customers’ taps.
To safeguard this precious resource, Marin Water is expanding efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, manage recreational use of our lands and protect the ecological health of our watersheds.
Our infrastructure enables us to provide clean drinking water to your taps. But years of focus on keeping costs down has led to a significant backlog of maintenance on this aging system, where some elements are nearing 100 years of use. When old cast iron pipes break, it disrupts service and repairs are more costly. To ensure the reliability of our system to deliver water now and for future generations, we are implementing a program of ongoing, steady long-term investment in our infrastructure.
Foundational to a future with continued reliable water is a sustainable financial plan to create new water supplies, keep our system in a state of good repair, and protect the watersheds that provide our water.
Achieving these critical initiatives requires targeted, forward-thinking investments. That is why as part of our current rate-setting process Marin Water is proposing a strategic rate increase.
In doing so, Marin Water will fund long-term water supply goals while also prioritizing financial sustainability amid reduced water sales driven by drought and impacts tied to record inflation and increasing costs that we are all experiencing at the grocery store.
We know any rate increase may feel impactful for some customers, but we also know continuing to kick the can down the road undermines our water system’s resilience and unfairly saddles future generations with escalating costs.
Marin Water will also continue to provide one of the best low-income bill assistance programs in the Bay Area to maintain affordability for ratepayers most in need. Through the rate-setting process, we are also proposing to restructure our tiered rates in a way that allows customers greater control over their water bills.
Marin Water is moving past planning and is ready to implement these actions and set the District on a path toward a resilient future.
This work must be collaborative, among Marin Water leaders and you, our community of customers. We all ask for your engagement and support.
Monty Schmitt is president of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors. He represents San Rafael’s District 2. For more information about the programs and initiatives referenced, go to marinwater.org.
As Reported by Marin Independent Journal