(ADDED: WSB photo, dried-out slopes beneath Myrtle Reservoir water towers)
Please use water “wisely,” the city is imploring you, as it downgrades the official “water-supply outlook” because of high temperatures, low rainfall, and increased water use. It’s **not** calling for restrictions, yet, but Seattle Public Utilities is making some water-management changes – read on:
The city’s news release:
After the hottest June in recorded history, higher-than-usual water consumption, record-low stream flows into storage reservoirs and the onset of El Niño conditions, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) today changed its water supply outlook from good to fair.
The utility is now making operational changes to maximize water supply, and customers are asked to continue to use water wisely. Seattle is not implementing water use restrictions at this time.
“We are taking prudent steps to manage our water supply during these unusual conditions,” Mayor Edward Murray said.
“We still have adequate supply until fall rains return, thanks to careful planning,” SPU Director Ray Hoffman said. “We know city residents will continue to be thoughtful about their water use.
“Summer effectively started at least a month early — it hasn’t rained more than a few drops since June 1, and our supply reservoirs are lower than normal,” Hoffman added. “At the same time, water use has exceeded expected use by 21 percent since May 1.”
To help manage the city’s water supply, SPU is taking several actions which include preparing pumps that can help access billions of additional gallons of water at Chester Morse Lake Reservoir in the Cedar River watershed and turning on the city’s well field north of Sea-Tac Airport.
The utility is also considering if and when to implement its Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP), which would allow the department to respond in the event of a potential water shortage. The plan was last implemented in 2005.
SPU continues to release water from its reservoirs to help with stream flows for fish on the Cedar and South Fork Tolt Rivers, providing protection for incubating salmon and steelhead trout.
Examples of using water wisely include using efficient plant-watering systems and watering before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Water-saving tips can be found online, at the Saving Water Partnership website.
A weekly report on Seattle’s water supply is available on the SPU website.
If you’re interested in the kinds of measures the city would consider if it DID declare a shortage, check out attachment C of the “contingency plan.”