Seattle asks residents to use less water despite rainy forecast



(The Center Square) – Seattle Public Utilities is asking 1.5 million Seattle residents to be resourceful with their water use due to a dry summer.

According to a press release from the city, an unprecedented stretch of dry weather, coupled with a forecast of continued dry conditions, “including a potential delay in sustained fall rains,” has led to concerns about sufficient water for human beings – and fish.

The request for reduced water use comes at a time of increased projected rainfall for the Seattle area through Sept. 26 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Our hydrologic model suggests a deep drawdown of our mountain reservoirs,” Seattle Public Utilities Water Resources Planner Elizabeth Garcia said in a statement. “Water levels are already lower than average, and we are adjusting to sustain adequate water supply for our customers and the rivers this fall.”

Seattle Public Utilities conducts weekly updates to water supply conditions. For the seven-day span between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, water consumption averaged approximately 149 million gallons per day. That is 8 million gallons per day less than the 157 million consumed during the same period last year.

“Seattle’s regional water supply remains sufficient for people and fish, despite warmer temperatures and drier-than-normal conditions,” the department stated on its water supply condition update on Monday.

The department’s goal is to drop the average water consumption for the region to 100 million gallons consumed per day and keep it at or below that level until the region gets enough rain to sufficiently refill the mountain reservoirs.

The city received $290.9 million in operating revenue in 2022. Residential water use made up 35% of the total generated revenue with $102.8 million. Commercial water use made up 36% of the generated revenue with $103.8 million.

According to a presentation to the Seattle Land Use and Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday, the public utilities department is set to utilize $272 million in expenditures this year. Expenditures are expected to continue to grow through 2026 at a projected $301 million.

The last time Seattle Public Utilities activated its Water Shortage Contingency Plan and asked customers to voluntarily use less water was in 2015.

“This is a testament to how well the water system is managed even as we experience more frequent and increasingly dry years,” the department stated in its press release.

The Center Square asked Seattle Public Utilities if the rainy forecast was considered in the activation of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan, but did not receive a response at the time of this publication.



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