Whatcom water districts join in conservation efforts

Published on Thu, Jun 5, 2008
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Whatcom water districts join in conservation efforts

Recognizing the growing importance of effective management of precious water resources, cities and water districts in Whatcom County are forming a regional water conservation group, the Whatcom Water Alliance.

The goals of the Alliance are to promote water conservation by coordinating public information efforts and related activities. In 2007, the Washington State Department of Health adopted the Water Use Efficiency Rule, requiring municipal water suppliers to develop more effective water conservation programs.

Current Alliance members include the cities of Blaine, Ferndale, and Sumas as well as Birch Bay Water and Sewer District, Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, Point Roberts Water District, Water District #2 and Water District #7.

For 2008, the Alliance members have agreed to support a voluntary odd-even watering schedule. The watering schedule will be implemented June 15 through September 15.

During that time, residents with odd numbered street addresses are being asked to limit watering to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Residents with even numbered street addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Mondays are non-watering days to allow reservoirs to recharge after the weekend.

The Alliance expects this program will help reduce stress on water supplies during the warm summer months, when outdoor usage soars.
Outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of the total average residential water consumption, with most of this usage going for watering lawns and gardens.

Turf grass needs only one inch of water per week to stay healthy and green, which means that a lot of lawns are getting more water than they actually need.

If water users only water three days a week and limit the weekly total to one inch – including rainfall - they will still have healthy lawns, but use less water.

Excessive irrigation also leads to increased water costs. By managing demand more carefully during the summer, utilities can cut back on costly peaking facilities and save money for ratepayers.

The Alliance members work together to develop public outreach materials that can be shared among participating utilities, also saving time and money.

These items include bill stuffers, flyers, brochures and door hangers for member water utilities to use and distribute as they see fit. Some agencies will be giving away rain gauges, used to measure how much water a sprinkler has applied and to remind customers of the “one inch per week” guideline.