Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Drought update: Save Ten

by Larry Altose
Northwest Region Communications Manager

Everett, Seattle and Tacoma have asked their water customers to reduce their water use by 10 per cent.

The three water systems, which also serve several nearby communities, provide drinking water to just over half the people in Washington.

The request to conserve water comes on the heels of record-setting heat and dry weather, which, in turn, followed a winter that left no Cascade or Olympic mountain snowpack by early June.

Reservoirs full by late spring

The three cities filled their reservoirs by spring to capture rain runoff from their mountain watersheds.  But, early summer water demand rose with the temperature, and long-range forecasts warn of continued unusually dry weather into the fall.

Conservation by water customers will help make more water available for fish in the Cedar, Green and Snohomish river systems. Fish are becoming stranded by low stream flows in many parts of the state.

Several other public water systems have already requested customers to reduce their water use.

Everyone can help

The savingwater.org website provides outstanding advice on ways to save, with tips that people in any location can put to use right away. Among these:

  •  Let your lawn go dormant, and limit plant watering to twice a week.
  • Water plants before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Check for plumbing leaks, including silent leaks in toilets.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.

 Other savings include putting off car washing, or using commercial car washes that recycle their water. Clean up outdoors by sweeping rather than using the hose. And leave the sink tap off until you finish brushing your teeth or shaving.

All three cities are making changes and tapping supplementary water sources to help stretch their available water supplies.  However, if conditions worsen, each city could put mandatory conservation measures in place.

See Ecology's drought page, and Water Conservation: It all starts with you for more on Washington's drought.

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