The Marin Post survey about what the Marin Municipal Water District can do about the ongoing drought received responses from several hundred readers. Ninety Eight percent of the survey respondents were existing MMWD customers. Although the results wouldn't be considered a scientific sampling, they do show some clear trends about what MMWD customers are thinking.
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QUESTION 2. What are the most important things MMWD can do right now?
On this question, ranked in order of importance, the opinions were clearly in favor of
(1) Find more water sources and
(2) Declare a moratorium on new water taps, while
(3) Build more water storage capacity.
QUESTIONS 3 and 4. How much do you realistically think you can reduce indoor water usage from your current level?
The responses to the questions of how much more customers felt they could reduce their indoor and outdoor water usage were particularly revealing.
- The vast majority of respondents said they could not reasonably reduce their indoor water use by more than 15% or their outdoor water use by even less than that.
- The vast majority of respondents complained that they have been reducing their water usage for years, and to reduce by another 40% more would be unrealistic.
MMWD should take note.
Typical comments included,
“0% - I am already doing all I can- reusing all sink water, all kitchen water, reducing showering, would need financial help to do grey water system.”
“0% - already have been cutting back since the last drought.”
“I have very little outdoor water usage, drought-tolerant plants, infrequent car washing.”
“None, landscaping already suffering.”
“None; my garden is on bare-bones water and I grow food.”
“We’re already conserving as much as possible.”
“I have no outdoor plants, I have removed all non-natives and will wait until the end of the year to put in drought-tolerant plants. My vehicle gets washed and rinsed with less than two buckets of water only once every 4-6 months.”
It’s not that their customers aren’t trying. Most have been reducing water usage for more than a decade. But there’s only so much one can realistically do. This may explain why “find more water sources” and “build more water storage capacity” ranked so high in the previous question. We are not living in the 1970s. Homes are larger and more complex and with more types of appliances and features.
QUESTION 5. In order of importance, what rate policies Marin Water should pursue?
On the last question about what type of rate policies MMWD should pursue, there was also a clear preference for two of the suggested choices. The respondents generally favored instituting policies that
(1) increase water rates progressively, so the more you use the higher the rate you pay (which MMWD already does to some extent) and
(2) give customers water quotas and letting them decide how they want to use it, either indoors or outdoors.
Asking customers to reduce water usage came in third and increasing fines and penalties or raising rates for all customers were the least favored.
This was, of course, the most complicated question to respond to, which is probably why most of the “Other Comments” submitted addressed this.
Most commenters had strong opinions.
A sampling of some of those responses are as follows:
“If there is a quota, how would MMWD determine how many people are living in a home, to set a fair quota?”
“The agency needs to do a better job of setting residential water consumption expectations.”
“Gray water, including runoff, which homeowners could draw upon.”
“Get a desalinization plant built fast!!! The Middle East does just fine with that... It is stupid that all these alternatives are being thought about... my landscaping/lawn is dead years of work and expense are gone. Why also stop releasing water for the fish... they are gone anyway!!!@”
“Mill Valley golf course used 12 million gallons of water in 2020 alone. Shut that monstrosity down.”
“Safety and concern for the current population should be first and foremost.”
“Long term increase of reuse of treated sewerage.”
"Increase recycled water to more areas. Go after large lawns in commercial areas."
“Get off their butts and look to the future. This is not going to be a one-time event. We need more water sources. Their job is to provide us with water! Start being creative.”
“Run candidates for the MMWD board.”