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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2007



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Critical Water Emergency In Bolinas
By Don Deane

The Bolinas Community Public Utility District (BCPUD) may run out of water this summer because end-of-life filtration equipment needs to be replaced and upgraded.
A widely distributed "water emergency flyer" warned last week that water use is exceeding water production capacity.

The problem is filtration capacity has plummeted over the last few years and filtration demand will increase significantly before the end of summer because the district will have to get water out of its reservoirs. There will not be enough flow out of Arroyo Honda Creek because of this year's reduced rainfall and reservoir water requires more filtration than creek water.

District Manager Jennifer Blackman told the Coastal Post last week, "The situation we're in right now has to do with the production capacity of the water treatment plant. Given the age of the equipment and filters which are scheduled for an upgrade in August we were not able to keep up with the spike in demand over the last few weeks."

There are four filters at the treatment plant. If all the filters were operating at optimum capacity there would be plenty of filtered water to meet demand, Blackman said. But as each filter goes offline for replacement and retrofitting in August, production will be reduced by 25%. The entire system will be converted from a high-pressure filter process to a low-pressure system, which will cost less and be less stressful on equipment.

Board member Don Smith observed, "One of the big problems right now is the community hasn't responded to our call for less water use. In fact it's gone up slightly."

Per-capita use in Bolinas is about 140 gallons per person. It's 200 gallons over the hill.

"The life on the filters is about six years. It is much more cost effective to replace the filters and retrofit the system at the same time," Smith said.

"The board believes that a new tiered water billing system-the more you use, the higher the water rate-will help to reduce water use.

Smith added, "Many people moving into town often don't know there's a problem with water. People in this country feel water is there to use and is unlimited. We've got one little creek that supplies the water for Bolinas. Washing driveways and automatic irrigation systems don't work for the town when there's a shortage."

The BPUD flyer emphasizes, "At the current rate of consumption (keep in mind summer just started...) we will be out of water entirely (NO WATER WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR ANYONE) by Labor Day. We need to start taking action to turn this around immediately or it will be too late."

To keep the emergency from turning into a disaster, the Bolinas Community Public Utility District says water consumption must be reduced by at least 20,000 gallons a day.

The district urges residents to do and not do the following:

Don't wash driveways, sidewalks and patios down. Sweep!

Don't wash your car in town. Take it to a car wash.

Hand water your garden and water in the evening.

Turn off automatic irrigation systems for the rest of the summer.

Don't fill or change the water in hot tubs or swimming pools

If you see a water leak report it to the BCPUD immediately - 868-1224.

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