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Seattle ends call for customers to use less water following recent rainfall

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(The Center Square) – Seattle Public Utilities is no longer asking 1.5 million residents to use less water after the recent atmospheric river passed through Western Washington.

Seattle Public Utilities activated its “Water Shortage Contingency Plan” back in September as a result of an unusually dry summer in 2023.

According to the department, water consumption for the region was at 149 million gallons per day on Sept. 18.

By November, the average consumption dropped to 105 million gallons per day. As of Dec. 4, it had dropped to 104 million gallons per day – just shy of the 100 million gallons per day goal that Seattle Public Utilities set for the region.

Last week, the city was at the hands of an atmospheric weather event, which at its height, dropped 4.4 billion gallons of water over Seattle’s regional drinking water reservoirs in the Cascade Mountains over 48 hours.

“Our customers answered the call to voluntarily reduce their water use, and we can’t thank them enough,” Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Andrew Lee said in a statement. “It’s not always easy or convenient to change one’s routine when it comes to lawn watering, showering, or addressing toilet leaks.

Atmospheric rivers are defined as long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. An example of an atmospheric river is the “Pineapple Express,” which brings moisture from Hawaii over to the U.S. West Coast.

Prior to this year, the last time Seattle Public Utilities activated its Water Shortage Contingency Plan and asked customers to voluntarily use less water was in 2015.

The Center Square previously reported on the City of Seattle’s water use and revenue projected to be slightly above the expected amounts, despite the call to use less water in the fall. Seattle Public Utilities blames hotter and drier weather in 2023 for increased water usages as people resort to drinking and using more water.

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