It is raining and Marin reservoirs are near historically normal levels for the end of December.
This good fortune does not change the political reality as the renowned 2022 local elections take place in November, when three seats are up for grabs on the five-member board of directors of the Marin Municipal Waters District.
The MMWD has long been divided into five âdivisionsâ commonly referred to as districts. Board Chair Cynthia Koehler’s Division 4 covers the Southern Sea. Director Larry Bragman, former Mayor of Fairfax, represents Division 3 centered in the Ross Valley and stretching east to Larkspur. Director Jack Gibson, a resident of Sleepy Hollow, has Division 1 located in the northern parts of San Rafael.
MMWD, one of California’s premier public water agencies, provides drinking, irrigation, commercial, and fire water to consumers in southern and central Marin. Novato and much of West Marin rely on the independent North Marin Water District, which has avoided many of the issues MMWD consumers face today.
The three water directors running for re-election are veterans. None of them can claim that the status quo was someone else’s. By the end of his current fourth term, Koehler will have served on the board for 16 years, Bragman for eight years, and Gibson has an incredible seven four-year terms for a total of 28 years.
They are not volunteers. Including meeting fees, as well as generous medical and dental benefits in fiscal year 2020-2021, Gibson earned $ 38,511, Bragman $ 34,983, and Koehler $ 32,743.
The Marin, North Bay, California, and much of the American West are inherently dry areas. Water scarcity will only worsen as the impacts of climate change deepen.
The problem that voters face is the lack of sufficient water during dry years. MMWD imports 25% of its water from Sonoma, but the remaining 75% depends on a sufficient amount of rain streaming down from the hills into reservoirs on Mount Tamalpais and West Marin.
The debate will focus on the failure of the MMWD to develop additional water sources. It was not due to a lack of forethought or incompetence; it’s intentional. The licensees argue that Marin should depend on locally produced water. If this is insufficient to meet demand, then the environmentally correct answer is to reduce water consumption.
This ‘less is more’ ideology was well articulated by Bragman when he first ran for the board in 2014. He wrote, âThe district is also pursuing a $ 45 million pipeline. across the Richmond Bridge. It is an invitation to dependence on water and over-development. Shouldn’t we instead be working to live within our means and invest locally in conservation, efficiency and innovation? “
The counter-argument is that while preservation is a valid tool, you can just extract as much blood – or water – from the figurative turnip.
The election will determine whether a majority of MMWD ratepayers believe the district has a duty to pursue an âall of the aboveâ strategy to locate water supplies to meet the needs and expectations of Marin residents.
In a nutshell, should the Marinites live with the county’s natural supply or rather increase the height of the dams, increase storage capacity, continue desalination, and restore the transbay pipeline to import newly available water from the high? Sacramento Valley?
The $ 45 million Bragman pipeline is back before the Water Board for a final decision in early January. The eight-mile Richmond-San Rafael Bridge pipe is now predicted to cost $ 90 million, double the 2014 estimate. That’s the price of the delay.
Credible groups recruit viable, qualified and well-funded candidates to oppose the list of outgoing candidates. Expect candidate announcements in the first quarter of 2022. Likewise, Koehler, Gibson and Bragman will have support from the influential environmental community.
Ultimately, the question at the polls is whether voters are tired of the conservation-only approach and are looking for new leadership to prepare for a drier future.