Winter Weather Outlook
The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center anticipates that there will be a strong El Niño this upcoming winter and their latest precipitation outlook for December through March indicates that Marin is likely to receive higher than average amounts of precipitation. Additionally, due in part to warmer than average ocean waters, tides could be significantly higher than predicted.
Regardless of predictions, the Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District (District) prepares for every year as though it is an “El Niño year.” Although two major flooding years in Marin's history occurred during years with El Niño episodes (1997/98 and 1982/83), it is not unusual to experience major flooding in the absence of El Niño, such as in 2005/06. Flooding can even occur during a drought year such as last year, when the County suffered some of its worst flooding damage since 2006.
It is for these reasons that the District follows a consistent system of facility and creek maintenance each year which mitigates the risk of flooding. We conduct regular inspections of the creeks, floodwalls, and levees within our jurisdiction, and frequently test our pumps, motors, and generators. Creeks, drainage ditches, pipes, trash racks, and pump wet wells are cleared of vegetation, sediment, and trash in the fall and throughout the winter as needed. A flood control zone-specific update regarding maintenance, storm preparedness and response in your local area is provided below.
Pump Station Maintenance
There are no District-operated pump stations in Flood Control Zone 5 - Stinson Beach.
Conservation Corps North Bay performs annual vegetation maintenance work in Easkoot Creek in key areas where permission is granted by private property owners. It is completed in early fall and is permitted under our existing Routine Maintenance Agreement with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Sediment removal needs at the sediment basin in Easkoot Creek adjacent to the Parkside Café was assessed and it was determined the basin currently provides the design capacity for sediment storage. Sediment levels at the basin will be re- evaluated by staff prior to the October deadline for any in-channel work required before the end of the dry season. The District currently holds the necessary permits needed for sediment removal work (Department of Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers and National Park Service), with the exception of needing to file a Notice of Intention with the Regional Water Quality Control Board before the work begins. Sediment removal at the basin during the winter will take place on an as-needed emergency basis dependent on weather forecasts and conditions of the basin’s capacity.
The bridge crossings downstream of the sediment basin were also assessed and no sediment removal is needed this year.
Levee/Floodwall Maintenance & Rodent Control
There are no District-owned levees or floodwalls in Zone 5.
Precipitation and Stream Gage Maintenance
The District owns several precipitation and stream gauges throughout the County which help inform us of water levels in creeks and heavy rainfall in real-time. The nearest rain gauges are at Point Reyes Station and Oceana Marin. For more information on the gauges visit https://marin.onerain.com/home.php. Preventative maintenance on the gauges is performed twice annually - September/October and February/March - and as needed. A grant has recently been awarded to upgrade the gauge software and is expected to be underway after this rainy season.
Before, during, and after storms, the Conservation Corps North Bay inspects and clears facilities as needed. They are also available for sandbagging and/or tarping levees and creek banks if requested. Additionally, county crews make rounds to all of the District pump stations to make sure they are in working order, and receive alarms from the pump stations to warn of emergency situations.
The District has a fleet of portable pumps which are maintained and tested prior to the winter season and some are pre-deployed in key locations.
The District is evaluating and has received a bid for temporary removable flood barriers which could be deployed quickly and in lieu of sandbags at flood threatened locations. The barriers are made of high strength plastic and achieve their stability by filling them with water.