Seattle Public Utilities asks locals to conserve water, please

The dry summer season is catching up to us.

The view of Cedar River watershed in Washington with a flowing reservoir of water near a wood splintered shore

The Cedar River watershed looks pretty, but is starting to get low.

Photo via Seattle Public Utilities

Mind your faucets, folks. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has asked its 1.5 million customers in the region to voluntarily reduce their water usage due to unusually dry conditions. The request is in effect until further notice.

Since we’re officially in fall and not the hot summer days, this announcement may come as a bit of a surprise. Let’s drip right into a few questions.

Didn’t it just rain? Why are we doing this?

The Seattle area saw a sprinkle recently, but it wasn’t quite enough to counteract the mainly rain-free months we just had and an early snowpack melt that led to a statewide drought. At the moment, our reservoirs are sufficient to supply residents (and fish), but the levels are starting to get depleted.

SPU has a goal of reducing water usage from 149 million gallons per day to ~100 million gallons per day to allow time for those reservoirs to fill up again. If we conserve now, a voluntary reduction can avoid becoming mandatory (duh duh duhhhhh).

How do we do this?

SPU is asking for a few tweaks to your daily flow like:

  • Taking shorter or fewer showers (lean into that trademark Seattle grunge).
  • Washing only full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Fixing leaks and running toilets
  • Turning off the water while brushing teeth and shaving
  • Avoiding watering the lawn
  • Delaying getting that car washed
  • Turning off fountains or other decorative water features (wait on constructing that life-sized “Little Mermaid” tableau)

How long will this last?

The last time SPU asked residents to conserve water was in August 2015 and the area rebounded fairly quickly. As soon as we get a consistent period of rain this season, we should be good to go.

Our reputation as “Rain City” may be taking a hit at the moment, but those clouds will come again.