(The Center Square) – Seattle residents have reduced their water usage to an average consumption of 105 million gallons per day, nearing the regional goal of 100 million gallons per day, but revenue for 2023 is expected to increase over original projections.
Sabrina Register, public information officer with Seattle Public Utilities, said that water revenue is less than expected since the department activated the Voluntary Stage of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan. However, residents have used a lot of water throughout 2023 due to warmer weather.
“Looking at the entire calendar year, water use and revenue are projected to be slightly above the expected amounts because it has been a hotter and drier spring, summer and fall than typical,” Register told The Center Square in an email.
The 105 million gallons per day consumption is a 29.5% drop from approximately 149 million gallons consumed on average that Seattle Public Utilities estimated when it initially asked 1.5 million Seattle residents to voluntarily use less water in September.
The last time Seattle Public Utilities activated its Water Shortage Contingency Plan and asked customers to voluntarily use less water was in 2015.
Since the latest activation of the city’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan, it has rained considerably more as Seattle phases into the fall season. However, according to Seattle Public Utilities Water Resources Planner Elizabeth Garcia, recent rainfall has not been sufficient to make up for the water deficit the region is trying to overcome due to the unusually dry summer.
“On average, we get about 26 inches of rain in our mountain reservoirs from May 1 to Oct. 1,” Garcia said in a statement last month. “This year, we only got 10 inches in that same period.”
The city department is not expecting rain to replenish its mountain reservoirs anytime soon due to this year’s El Nino weather patterns.
Out of $290.9 million Seattle received 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 in September, 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.