Sep 21, 2023 - Climate

Seattle residents asked to cut water use amid dry weather

Illustration of a faucet with a drop of water with a sad face.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Seattle Public Utilities is asking the 1.5 million people it serves to reduce their water use, citing "an unprecedented stretch of dry weather" that has drawn down local reservoirs.

Driving the news: The utility, which provides water not just for Seattle but also surrounding communities, issued an advisory Thursday asking local residents to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns, among other measures.

  • Anna Dyer, the utility's water conservation manager, also advised "washing only full loads of laundry and dishes, and fixing water leaks, especially running toilets."

Why it matters: Utility managers are worried that they won't have enough water for people and fish in the coming months.

  • That's partly because they expect drier-than-normal conditions to continue into the fall.

The big picture: Climate change is making extreme heat waves, wildfires and droughts more common in the Pacific Northwest, according to federal officials and academic studies.

Flashback: The last time Seattle Public Utilities asked customers to voluntarily reduce their water use was in 2015.

Details: The request to reduce water use is in effect until further notice, Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Sabrina Register told Axios.

  • The utility hopes to reduce daily water use systemwide by about a third, "until we get enough rain to refill the mountain reservoirs sufficiently," according to Thursday's public notice.

What they're saying: Register told Axios that although rain is in next week's forecast, "we don't expect the week of rain to be enough to replenish our water supply to levels that are typical for this time of year."

The bottom line: Even if you look outside next week and it's pouring, you'll likely still be asked to cut your water use for a little bit longer.


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