Marin Water exploring desalination to tackle severe drought

Drought

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Reservoirs continue to dry up in Marin County and everyone agrees that conservation efforts are ‘not’ where they need to be.

Now, the Marin Municipal Water District is looking at some expensive options to tackle the severe drought.

“We’re facing historic drought conditions,” Emma Detwiler said.

From a potential new pipeline to desalination plants, the Marin Municipal Water District is exploring ways to resupply the dried up region.

In April, the county started imposing water restrictions but right now reservoirs are still down by about half.

“Right now, our reservoirs are at 35% capacity. Last year, we had 60%, we usually have 70%,” Detwiler said.

Marin Water Communications Manager Emma Detwiler says a pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is the priority project to increase supply.

It would redirect water from agricultural to customer use.

“We’re looking at that because it would deliver the amount of water we’ve identified we would need to meet our demand. We’re also looking at desal,” Detwiler said.

Desalination plants are a secondary, more expensive route that removes salt and other impurities from sea and groundwater.

But plants cost $35-million to get up and running and would have to be coupled with more robust conservation efforts.

“The best way to keep our supply is conservation with conservation and desal we would be able to keep enough supply here,” Detwiler said.

There are competitors for desalination plants from around the world and both the plant and the pipeline would take about 6 to 9 months to come to fruition.

“That just tells us we’re not the only region experiencing this,” Detwiler said.

In the meantime, Detwiler says while the district explores options for the future, they encourage conserving water in the present.

“Any projects are expensive, the least expensive way is through conservation efforts,” Detwiler said.

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