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Dec 28

Green Resolutions

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM by Ann Vallee

by Christina Mountanos, Water Conservation Specialist

In addition to my typical New Year's resolutions to sleep, exercise and floss more, I've been making small changes to do my part to help the environment the past few years. Since we're already pretty frugal in my household with water, I typically focus on saving energy. We purchased a heating blanket for our bedroom last year, so we no longer heat the entire room. This year, we put "sweeps" under our doors and bought a new energy-efficient refrigerator. I often find that these changes, ones that don't even require daily practice, help me conserve year round with no ongoing effort.

Along the same lines, if there were actions you could take right now to save water would you do them? What if you could do something that only took a single day of work, a few hours, or even seconds? Here is a list of simple "green resolutions" you can implement this year:

  • Double-check that your irrigation controller is in the OFF position for the winter.
  • Use a simple shower timer to become aware of how long you're typically in there. Set a goal of five minutes or less.
  • Locate your water meter and spend a few minutes checking for any movement. Learn more about how to use your water meter to check for leaks.
  • Locate the main shut-off valves to your house and irrigation system so you'll know how to quickly shut off the water if a leak should occur. 
  • Put a shut-off nozzle on your garden hose.
  • Use food coloring or dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks. Find step-by-step instructions here.
  • Replace an old toilet with a new, more efficient model. (We have rebates!)
  • Check if your showerheads are efficient, and replace any that have a flow rate of more than 2.0 gallons per minute. (To check the flow rate, turn on the shower and catch the water in a 1-gallon bucket. If it takes less than 30 seconds to fill the bucket, the flow rate is more than 2.0 gallons per minute and the showerhead should be replaced.)
Regardless of the significant rainfall we've received so far this year, fresh water is still a limited resource. We are fortunate to have a fresh, clean supply available to us, ready for our use at any given timehelp us conserve it.

Happy New Year! 
Dec 21

Look for the Label

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 21, 2016 at 12:06 PM by Ann Vallee

by Greg Van Trump, Water Conservation Specialist

WaterSenseRemodeling or adding a bathroom soon? Replacing an old leaky toilet? If so, be sure to choose a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency toilet (HET). 

WaterSense is an Environmental Protection Agency program that helps customers choose water-saving fixtures that are third-party tested to meet rigorous performance criteria. So even though your new HET uses only 1.28 gallons per flush (20% less than older 1.6 gpf toilets), you can expect excellent performance. Since toilets account for about 30% of residential indoor water use, you can also expect to save thousands of gallons per year. And the best part of the deal is that MMWD will rebate up to $150 each to replace up to two of your older water-guzzling toilets! To find out more about the rebate program visit marinwater.org/rebates. Remember, not all HETs are the same so be sure to look for the WaterSense label!
Dec 06

Rainwater: What’s It Made of, and Why Is It so Good for the Garden?

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 6, 2016 at 2:24 PM by Ann Vallee

by Dan Carney, Water Conservation Manager

Marin is fortunate to have received 17.55 inches of rain at Lake Lagunitas since July 1—159% of average for this time of year and more rain is expected soon. Whether you like to sit and enjoy the sound of raindrops on the window, or splash in puddles, rain is good news for Marin. 

Rainwater is amazing stuff! According to researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, rain falling on the California coast is not pure H2O, but contains a mixture of particles including dust, carbon and nitrogen compounds, minerals, vegetative detritus and sea salt. It also has an average pH around 5.7, on the acidic side compared to pure H2O with a neutral pH of 7.0. But even with this mix of atmospheric particles, it is water of excellent quality.

What does this water chemistry mean for your landscape plants in Marin? The slightly acidic pH, low salt content, and dissolved nitrogen in rainwater create ideal conditions for making soil nutrients available to your plants. If you’ve ever noticed plants looking especially perky after a good rain, now you know why. 

How can you take full advantage of this liquid gold as it falls from the sky? The easiest way is to make sure that the rain falling on your property stays on your property. You can redirect roof drains into the landscape, create dry creek beds or rain gardens to encourage infiltration into the soil, and capture some of it in rain barrels to use on a sunny day. For more rainwater ideas, and to apply for a $50 rain barrel rebate, please visit MMWD’s Rainwater Harvesting webpage at marinwater.org/rainwater