Update from Kate - Wondering About Winter Rains and Whether We'll Be Ready? Read the Zone 3 Update

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Wondering About The Weather We May Get This Winter and Whether We’re Going To Be Ready?

Read the Zone 3 Update and Be In The Know

What is Flood Control Zone 3 and what does it do for me?

If you live in Almonte, Alto-Sutton Manor, Marin City, the City of Mill Valley, Tamalpais Valley, and portions of Strawberry and Homestead Valley, you live in Flood Control Zone 3, also known as the Richardson’s Bay area which is served by the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District). This zone contains several discrete yet connected watersheds which all flow to Richardson’s Bay.

A portion of the ad valorem taxes paid with your annual property tax bill funds Zone 3 and helps pay for a variety of flood control and water conservation services. The mission of the District is to reduce the risk of flooding for the protection of life and property using sustainable practices. The District aims to meet this mission through effective, transparent, and responsive planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities such as stormwater pump stations, detention basins, bypass drains, creeks, ditches, and levees.

Winter Weather Outlook

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center currently shows that Marin may receive higher than average amounts of precipitation this winter. Furthermore, due to warmer ocean waters, tides could come in higher than predicted. For low lying areas of Southern Marin, we know this can mean flooding in Manzanita, the Sausalito-Mill Valley Pathway, Miller Ave. adjacent to Tamalpais High School, as well as other locations. Due to media coverage of the expected El Niño this winter, residents have been inquiring, "What is the County of Marin doing to prepare?"

How We Prepare – The Strategy: Diligent Preparation Annually

Regardless of predictions, the District prepares diligently every year as if it was expected to be an "El Niño" year. Although two major flooding years in Marin's history were El Niño years (1997/98 and 1982/83), it is not unusual to experience major flooding in non-El Niño years, such as the flooding that occurred in 2005/06. Last year, a drought year, the County had some of the worst flood damage since 2006.

For this reason, each year, Flood Control staff embark on a rigorous and comprehensive program of facility and creek maintenance to reduce the risk of flooding. This program includes annual inspections of creeks, biannual inspections of floodwalls and levees, and annual testing of pumps, motors and generators. Creeks, drainage ditches, pipes, trash racks, and pump wet wells are cleared of vegetation, sediment, and refuse in the fall and throughout the winter, as needed.

Ways We Prepare

Pump Station Maintenance

Scheduled annual pump maintenance is completed by the onset of the rainy season. This includes both major maintenance for select pumps and electric motors, as well as preventive maintenance for all pumps/motors. (Major maintenance for individual pumps and motors is scheduled on six-year rotation, but may occur more frequently as needed.)

Pump #1 at Crest Marin, pump #2 at Shoreline, and pump #1 at Ryan Creek were due for planned maintenance this year. The amount budgeted for completing this work was $80,000, with all work completed under budget ($56,000).

Vegetation Maintenance

The Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) performed annual vegetation maintenance along the Coyote Creek levee in Tam Valley. The District and the City of Mill Valley entered into their regular annual agreement for the City to conduct and oversee maintenance and receive up to $35,000 in District reimbursements. With Mill Valley’s anticipated increase in maintenance activities, the District will consider increasing Mill Valley’s reimbursement this year up to $50,000 to facilitate these additional measures.

Sediment Removal

Earlier this year, Flood Control staff assessed the need for sediment removal at multiple locations. Staff sought and obtained sediment removal permits from the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board for work along Nyhan Creek at Enterprise Concourse and along Sutton Manor Creek downstream of Ashford Ave. In addition, staff also secured a programmatic permit for this work from California Fish & Wildlife. Sediment removal work will take place prior to October 15.

Storm Preparedness & Response

The District is considering and has received a bid for temporary removable flood barriers, deployable quickly and in lieu of sandbags at flood-threatened locations. These barriers, made of high strength plastic, achieve stability by filling them with water, making them both useful and reusable.

Stay Informed About Flood Control in Your Neighborhood

If you wish to know more about the Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District, including updates from Zone 3, please check the pull-down menu titled "Flood & Stormwater Protection" at the top of the Southern Marin Watershed Program home page.

In addition, the Flood Control Zone 3 Advisory Board, with representatives who live throughout the zone, meets in Southern Marin with Flood Control staff to review work programs, the zone budget and offer issues. Sign up here to receive information about Zone 3 Advisory Board meetings in Southern Marin. Plan to attend and learn more about projects and programs in your neighborhood, community and watershed.

For further information about the Flood Control and Water Conservation District and Zone 3, please contact Assistant Engineer Neal Conatser at nconatser@marincounty.org or (415) 473-2941.

Stay in Touch With Supervisor Kate Sears

Please stay in touch and feel welcome to write to Kate at ksears@marincounty.org. Share this information with friends and urge them to subscribe to Kate’s District Three news and information by signing up.