Water Shortage Contingency Plan enters phase 1, advisory level

The City of Bothell, Northshore Utilities and the City of Kirkland all get their water services from Seattle Public Utilities. This week, Seattle, along with Tacoma and Everett, have initiated Phase One of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans (WSCP).

The City of Bothell, Northshore Utilities and the City of Kirkland all get their water services from Seattle Public Utilities. This week, Seattle, along with Tacoma and Everett, have initiated Phase One of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans (WSCP).

According to Seattle’s WSCP, operational flexibility of the water supply for people and fish “is key”. The plan details four phases of the plan depending on whether the actions and measures will produce results in the required timeframe, whether there will be a measurable magnitude of water savings, whether the actions are relevant to the time of year (irrigation or non-irrigation seasons), and whether the costs of the measures would out-weight the public health and safety reasons.

Currently, Seattle Public Utilities has initiated Phase 1, or the Advisory stage, of the WSCP. At this stage, the public is informed of meaningful ways they can curtail water use.

The 10 tips SPU has for reducing water use include:

  • Don’t leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth.

  • Fully load the dishwasher and clothes washer before running them.

  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run.

  • Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.

  • Install water-efficient appliances in your home. Look for the EPA WaterSense labels, and check with your local water system to see if they offer rebates.

  • Don’t over-water your lawn, and water early in the morning or at night to avoid excess evaporation.

  • When the driveway or sidewalk needs cleaning, consider a broom instead of a hose. It can save up to 80 gallons of water.

  • If you have a swimming pool, use a cover. You will cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.

  • Help preserve the quality of the available water supply by not overusing pesticides and fertilizers, avoiding flushing medications down the toilet or sink, and disposing of hazardous materials properly.

  • Place rain barrels beneath your downspouts. The rainwater can be used for outdoor plants and trees or to wash a car.

The objectives of phase one advisory stage is to help departments, cities, relevant agencies and all water users of the potential for water shortages and allow them to adequately plan for the water needs, along with allowing supply management agencies to take actions to forestall or minimize further water use reductions.

“Residents and businesses should continue to use water wisely to help ensure sufficient water supply for people and fish,” said Chuck Clarke, Cascade CEO. “This is a time to assess and reevaluate your own water use.”

If the water supply decreases, or if the conditions worsen, the WSCP phases may be increased.

Other stages include a voluntary cooperation (Phase two) and support from customers to decrease water usage to meet consumption goals for both residential and commercial users.

Phase three is a mandatory reduction stage that would implement limitations or prohibitions on certain actions which would be enforceable and punishable with fines for repeated violations.

The final stage is Emergency Curtailment (phase 4), which would address the severe need for reduction and would include mandatory measures and rate surcharges, and would only be implemented in a drought of increasing severity or to address an immediate crisis such as the failure of a water facility.

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