The Future of Regional Water Supply Resiliency

The Business-Environment Breakfast hosted by Marin Conservation League on March 31 was notable on two counts. It was the first in-person event in more than three years of this popular decades-long series – and a welcome release from the on-screen boxes that confine our interactions in Zoom format! It was notable also in bringing together the General Managers of Marin Water (Ben Horenstein), North Marin Water District (Tony Williams), and Sonoma Water (Grant Davis) for a lively and informative discussion of “The Future of Regional Water Supply Resiliency.”

Even as their reservoirs are spilling in the aftermath of 12 “atmospheric rivers,” the general managers outlined the challenges each agency faces and the opportunities they are investigating to assure customers of adequate water under the opposite specter of extreme drought. Their conclusion: resiliency of water supply to meet the needs of a growing population in a changing climate cannot be limited to locally enhanced efficiencies, storage capacity, conservation, and recycled wastewater. It must also entail regional strategies that go beyond the existing, vulnerable pipeline connection between Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Innovation in capturing winter water flows from the Russian River, by establishing a regionally -supported groundwater storage and management project in Sonoma, and even a regional brackish water desalination facility at a Petaluma River location – all must be considered in developing long term water supply solutions that are economically competitive and also acceptable environmentally. The evident collaborative efforts of the three agencies working together were applauded in the ensuing Q&A discussion.


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