Mayor, Council ask citizens to take steps to reduce water usage

Hot weather and a statewide drought make these steps important

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, (509) 625-6505

Friday, June 26, 2015 at 9:15 a.m.

With triple-digit temperatures in the forecast and a declared statewide drought, Mayor David Condon and the City Council are asking citizens to join them in efforts to conserve water this summer.

“Our water is a precious resource. While Spokane is fortunate to have a good supply of clean drinking water in the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, that resource is not unlimited,” says Mayor Condon. “We need to use our water wisely.”

The City is asking residents and businesses to take these voluntary steps:

  • Don’t sprinkle between noon and 6 p.m. Some experts estimate that 50 percent of the water evaporates when sprinkling in the heat of the day. Morning watering is considered best as the water doesn’t sit on the roots overnight, which can cause problems with root rot or fungal disease.
  • Switch to watering your lawn every other day, rather than every day. Infrequent and deep watering is better. This schedule will encourage the roots of a lawn to grow more deeply, allowing them to draw water from the soil more effectively.
  • Don’t let your hose run. While washing a car, use a nozzle or shut off the faucet until the water is needed. Running a 5/8-inch hose for 30 minutes wastes up to 150 gallons of water.
  • Don’t water on windy days, and turn your sprinklers off when it rains.

“With this approach, citizens can maintain their lawns and landscaping, while using less water and keeping their summer watering bills more affordable,” says Council President Ben Stuckart.

Residents also can consider using native plants in their landscaping and leaving lawn clippings on the lawn to act as a natural mulch. Mower blades should be set to leave grass that is 3 inches high; short grass leaves the ground vulnerable to quick evaporation and weed invasion.


Another way to reduce water use is to add a smart controller to irrigation systems that measure the moisture in content in the soil and avoid overwatering. A hose timer can help do the same thing for those who don’t have automatic sprinkler systems.

One inch a week of water is a watering “rule of thumb” suggested for most lawns. Experts suggest infrequent and deep watering over frequent and shallow watering to encourage roots of your lawn to grow more deeply. The deeper the roots the better your lawn can draw water from the soil. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that nationally, lawn care and landscaping accounts for more than 30 percent of water use in the United States.

Protecting and preserving our water resources is a long-term goal of the City. The City’s Water Department must meet water conservation goals as part of state and federal requirements. The City Council adopted new conservation goals last year that strive to reduce indoor residential use by 0.5 percent annually and outdoor use by 2 percent annually.

The City met the indoor goal as well as the outdoor irrigation goal in the residential and government categories in 2014. The commercial/industrial outdoor irrigation goal wasn’t met last year, but the City is continuing to work to improve that.

The City is evaluating its own water needs to find ways to reduce its usage further and is continuing to find ways to encourage citizens to use less water. In November, the City adopted a new wastewater bill discount for customers who use less water, encouraging lower water use. Under the credit program, the lowest 20 percent of indoor water users receive credits totaling $60 a year.

The City bills customers monthly for water use. For greater consistency of billing amounts, customers can request a “budget billing” option that spreads amounts evenly across all months of the year. Customers can call 625.6000 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to set up budget billing.


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