North Marin Water District takes fresh steps to address climate-related extreme weather events

(Posted January 25, 2024) As part of an ongoing commitment to being better prepared to respond to extreme weather events, North Marin Water District (NMWD) has joined the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) Water Affiliates Group, in partnership with Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and the County of Marin.

This multi-agency group leverages the work of the CW3E at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography to advance understanding of atmospheric rivers, strategically improve water management, mitigate flood risk, and increase water supply reliability.

Atmospheric rivers are defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as “relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics.” As reported by CW3E, extreme rainfall caused by these columns of condensed water is responsible for nearly 85% of flooding events along the West Coast.

NWMD joining the CW3E Water Affiliates Group also reflects NMWD’s response to the recommendations of the Dam and Reservoir Safety report issued in June 2023 by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury. As the report reflects, NMWD’s Stafford Dam is in full compliance with the California Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) regulations regarding dam safety and operations. However, per the Report, “regulatory agencies requirements for dam safety do not incorporate the latest scientific information on climate change.”

As such, the Report recommended that NMWD (and MMWD) should “begin collaboration with scientific institutions” to expand our toolkit of mitigation strategies in light of the growing risk presented by atmospheric river events. Joining the CW3E Water Affiliates Group is a significant step in connecting with like-minded organizations and understanding atmospheric rivers and implementing real-world water resource solutions through decision support tools developed by CW3E.