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.
“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,” said SPU Director Ray Hoffman. “At the same time, water use has exceeded expected use by 21 percent since May 1.”
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.
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.
SPU is considering if and when to implement the 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.
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.