By Wilson Walker

MARIN COUNTY (CBS SF) — For all of the places in California where water is complicated, it really is quite simple in Marin County. The rain that falls is stored in the hills. No rain, no water. So now that some rain is falling again, how much does Marin need to escape the drought?

“Today, we thought, was a good day to hike” said Jan Herr, walking around Phoenix Lake just west of Kentfield. “So that we could see the mud on the ground.”

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What everyone has been waiting for is finally on display along the hillsides surrounding the lake: the first steps in what will hopefully be a much longer, soggier trip that ends with full reservoirs.

“We’re not relieved in the sense that we think it’s done,” said Eli Weber. “But we’re happy to see that it’s starting.”

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“We are very thrilled to be seeing some rain right now,” said Lucy Croy, water quality manager for Marin Water. “Quite a bit more than we’ve seen in the last nine months.”

For Marin Water, the rain is the long-awaited end to a brutal dry spell. And they know everyone’s question is “How much rain will we need to get out of the drought here?”

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“That’s a good question, and it’s a hard question,” said Croy. “It’s hard to know what is really ‘out’ at this point.”

One problem is that the parched ground will soak up more water, meaning runoff will be reduced – for a while, anyway. But the flipside of Marin’s dependence on rain is that a lot of it can add up fairly quickly.

“Given the hydrology that comes through the Mount Tam watershed, it’s been a very resilient system,” said Croy. “A few atmospheric rivers can hit and we can bump right on up to full capacity.”

The drought, however, has created more uncertainty on how the ground, and the reservoir levels, might behave.

“Hitting these two extremely dry years back to back has put us in an unprecedented position,” said Croy.

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