San Geronimo–Fourteen water cisterns, ranging in size from 300 to 3,000 gallons arrived today in San Geronimo as SPAWN, the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network announced its new 10,000 Raingardens Project

“Our program is designed to help both our creeks and residents,” said Paola Bouley, SPAWN’s Conservation Director. She continued, “These projects help protect the environment in multiple ways while conserving water from our reservoirs for drinking and household use.

The concept is simple and elegant. Rainwater running off homes is diverted in water cisterns to be used for irrigation and other non-potable uses instead of racing off hard impermeable surfaces directly into our creeks. This reduces harmful run-off that erodes creekbanks and threatens property. Diverting roof-water into cisterns helps prevent sedimentation of salmon and steelhead spawning beds, and when integrated with `rain-garden’ designs also help recharge groundwater resources that keep streams running cold and clean in the summer.
Onsite collection of rainwater is even more important during drought conditions, a situation that some scientists predict will happen more frequently due to climate changes cause by global warming.

“Reducing municipal water use also reduces our carbon footprint and our impact on global warming because it takes an incredible amount of energy to treat and pump water to our homes,” Bouley noted, creating a positive feedback loop.
If the reasons weren’t enough, Bouley noted that having an onsite water storage on your property, carefully situated and with properly fitted valves, can also be a benefit to firefighters during an emergency, especially in the urban – wildland interface.

The 10,000 Raingardens Project, funded through a contract from MMWD, will help educate the public to this simple technology, and provide various forms of assistance to residents who want to get involved in what Bouley describes as the “Rainwater Movement.”

“We organized this community order, and by doing so, we saved residents 50 percent of the cost of ordering individually,” said Bouley.

SPAWN began its rainwater harvesting program back in 2006, by providing a 30,000-gallon roofwater harvesting system for the Lagunitas School’s organic garden project. Funded in part by an EPA Clean Water Act grant that SPAWNsecured, and the solid support of the school board and parents, the project spurred huge community interest across the Bay Area. In 2008, the Marin Community Foundation provided funding that resulted in 17 additional projects, including at 3 local schools and even at the Marin Art and Garden Center.

Now, three years later, Dan Carney,MMWD’s Conservation Manager, and the MMWD Board of Directors has selected SPAWN to lead their one-year pilot program to bring rainwater harvesting resources to District customers and help reduce demands on reservoirs that divert water from Lagunitas and Nicasio Creeks, where endangered salmon spawn. “MMWD is excited to work with SPAWN on this pilot project. Customers will have the opportunity to learn about various rain harvesting technologies, and what is involved with installing a system on their property”, said Dan Carney, MMWD’s Conservation Manager.

Todd Steiner, Executive Director of SPAWN said, “Our aim is to find creative ways for us all to live in better harmony with our environment, and the rainwater harvesting program is fantastic model, offering multiple benefits for people, endangered salmon and the environment.”