Kristen Zimmer, Conservation Program Manager, 509.625.6573
Friday, June 4, 2021 at 12:05 p.m.
The Washington state Department of Ecology issued a drought advisory for Spokane County and much of the state late last week. Spokane is experiencing an extraordinarily dry spring, in fact the driest since the state has kept record in 1881. The U.S. Drought Monitor on May 25 classified 87% of Washington as being in drought, with the majority of the state considered abnormally dry and drought levels deepening further to the south.
The graph below shows the Accumulated Precipitation collected at the Spokane International Airport and just how much we have been missing our seasonal precipitation. The brown line in the middle represents the normal precipitation we typically see in our region. The red line on the bottom is the 2021 accumulated precipitation and our record lowest. We would need to see at least 4” of rain to catch up to normal conditions.
You might be wondering what this means for our region and our water supplies. While Spokane has a robust and resilient water system, we are asking our customers to take steps immediately to use less water during these drought conditions to limit the impacts on our important water resources—the Spokane River and the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.
Now, before we get into the high heat of July and August, is the perfect time to adjust watering habits and really look at your water use to make sure you’re using water efficiently outside. The Mayor and Council are encouraging all of Spokane to adopt an odd/even watering schedule to help protect water resources, maintain affordable water rates, support landscaping health, and reduce the need for costly water system expansions over time.
Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to make a difference. If you’re watering by hand, this means a little less work by skipping a few days a week. Those that use a smart irrigation controller can typically find an ODD/EVEN system setting on the controller’s app. If you haven’t invested in a smart irrigation controller, now is a great time! Water customers can receive up to an $100 credit on their City of Spokane utility bill for purchasing and installing the water saving equipment.
Using less water on your landscape means you’ll save some money too. Last fall, the City approved changes to the rates it charges for water use, rewarding customers for lower water use and encouraging customers to limit their use to about 18,700 gallons a month. To learn how the changes would impact your bill, check out our nifty water calculator tool. By entering your account number and address, the calculator will provide a look at your past use and calculate the difference you might pay under the new rates.
We need your help to keep water levels in the Spokane River and SVRP aquifer up this summer by conserving water where you can - you’ll even save a few dollars for your efforts by avoiding higher utility bills. The City’s Parks Department has volunteered to serve as an example this summer of how an odd/even watering schedule can be accomplished, while still creating beautiful spaces.
Check out the video below to learn a little bit more about Odd/Even Watering from our resident Landscape Architect, Nick Hamad.
For more water-saving tips and to learn about the available water efficiency rebates, check out WaterWiseSpokane.org.