You’ve probably heard that our state is officially experiencing a drought. Snowpack in the mountains is extremely low, and June 2015 was the hottest June on record for Washington.
On May 15, the governor declared a statewide drought emergency. This drought affects water resources across the state. Perhaps you’ve noticed rivers, creeks or lakes at much lower levels than where you’ve seen them in previous years. Perhaps you’ve noticed how dry and brown the outdoor terrain is.
Water sustains life, which is why protecting water resources is a crucial component of the Thurston Thrives’ Environment Strategy. When water resources are in jeopardy, we must do what we can to conserve them. Conserving water helps assure that we will have enough for us and our families, and that water levels in rivers, lakes and streams can support fish and wildlife.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many homeowners use over 50 percent of their water outdoors, and about half of that is wasted due to evaporation, wind or runoff. Follow these practical steps to conserve water outdoors:
▪ Let your lawn go dormant. It needs just one inch of water per month to stay alive, and once the fall rains return your lawn will turn green after a couple of weeks.
▪ Use drip or soaker hoses to water gardens. These help deliver water to the base of your plants, making less available to evaporate, blow away or run off.
▪ Water your plants, not your driveway. When using a sprinkler, make sure it is watering only the areas that needs the water — not your driveways and sidewalks.
▪ Avoid mid-day watering. Less water will evaporate when watering in the cooler morning and evening hours.
Using water wisely is about using the water you need and nothing more. This may mean breaking habits like leaving the water running as you wash dishes or while brushing your teeth. There are many ways we can reduce our water use in our homes. Here are some tips to help you conserve water indoors:
▪ Check faucets and showerheads for leaks. One drip every second can add up to five gallons per day!
▪ Test your toilet for leaks. Drop a dye tablet or 10 drops of food coloring into the tank and wait 15 minutes to see if the water leaks from the tank into the bowl.
▪ Choose energy efficient appliances and fixtures. Higher-efficiency models will not only save resources, but can also save you money.
▪ Replace your showerhead. If your shower fills a one gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a WaterSense® showerhead.
▪ Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge instead of running the tap until it’s cold enough.
To help reduce the risk of fires during these dry times:
▪ Avoid outdoor burning. A burn ban is in effect in Thurston County. More information is available at https://waburnbans.net/recent-burn-bans/category/thurston/.
▪ Don't throw lit materials or cigarettes (even if you think they are no longer lit) from your car. Human carelessness is the biggest cause of brush fires; a lit cigarette thrown out of a car window can ignite the dry grasses and plant matter that line our roadways.
▪ Don’t drive or park in dry, tall grass. Hot catalytic converters can cause dry weeds and grasses to catch fire.
▪ Be careful when operating equipment that can cause sparks. Have a fire extinguisher handy when working outdoors near sources of ignition.
By being proactive to prevent fires during, you may be helping save property and lives.
Whether you are on a well or municipal water, conserving water makes a difference. On a well, you are saving water for your household and others connected to the well. On a municipal water supply, you can save water for your community and save money on your water bill by conserving. Residents and businesses, working together in partnership with governments and other water suppliers, keep our water supply safe and secure, so that we all stay healthy.
Thank you to all who are making changes and taking action to conserve water.