North Marin Water District study will explore options to expand Novato water supply

(Updated September 16, 2021) A study is scheduled for approval at the September 21, 2021 Board meeting for North Marin Water District to explore options for expanding local water supply in our Novato Service Area.

A range of options will be explored during the Local Water Supply Enhancement Study, including expanding our recycled water distribution, capturing stormwater runoff from nearby areas such as Bowman Canyon, and groundwater banking, in which the groundwater aquifer can be recharged during wet years and drawn from during drought years.

The study will also include increasing the capacity of our Stafford Lake reservoir by raising lake elevation by three feet. Approximately 20% of Novato’s water supply comes from Stafford Lake, with imported Russian River water sourced from the Sonoma Water agency making up the rest.

Based on potential growth in Marin County in the coming decade and the prospect of longer drought periods, North Marin Water District board members expressed support for exploring desalination options in this study.

The study would begin in October 2021 and potential options would be brought back to the board by March 2022.

On a larger scale, a regional study is currently underway and is expected to be completed by September 2022. North Marin Water District and other retail water contractors who purchase wholesale water from Sonoma County Water Agency are funding the forward-looking study into the resilience of the regional water system. The Regional Water Supply Resiliency Study was crafted to better understand existing and future water supply challenges facing the region and to increase resilience by adopting water supply options that more fully integrate the regional systems.

Due to the current drought conditions, portions of the study addressing drought risks are being put on a fast-track schedule to determine risks of an extended 2021-2022 drought and evaluate options to reduce or manage drought risks in the region. This portion of the study is set to be finished by October 2021.