EVERETT — The cities of Everett, Seattle and Tacoma have issued a drought advisory for their water customers.
In Everett, this marks the first time the city has ever activated its Drought Response Plan, which was created in 2001.
“The current level of Spada Lake is at 1412.4 feet elevation, which is about 68 percent of normal for this time of year,” said Marla Carter, a spokeswoman for Everett’s Public Works department.
The city has triggered the first “advisory” stage of its four-stage response plan.
The key message, Carter said, is to ask consumers to use water wisely and to be aware that changing conditions may require further action.
“It’s really precautionary, mostly (because) we’ve had dry conditions,” she said.
“Between Spada and (Lake) Chaplain we’ve got about a seven-month supply in the reservoir. That’s without any more measurable precipitation,” Carter said.
She added that the forecast would be for a dry winter as well, so there will be continued monitoring of the water level in the summer.
If conditions worsen, the city could move to the second stage, which would ask users to voluntarily limit all nonessential domestic uses of water.
Everett supplies water to about 80 percent of all businesses and residents of Snohomish County, including 95 other cities and water districts. Its service area has a population of 570,000.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District serves another 20,000 businesses and residents, and also has moved to the first stage of its drought response plan.
“I think it’s just an overall ‘use water wisely’ advisory,” said Brant Wood, the district’s senior manager of water resources.
The PUD also buys about 75 percent of its water from the city of Everett, and provides the rest from nine separate wells, Wood said.
Generally speaking, the city’s drought plan is activated when water level in Spada Lake or snowpack drops below 80 percent by April 1. The second stage is triggered when the water or snowpack is below 75 percent of normal by June 1 and there is a reasonable probability that conditions will not return to normal.
“We don’t anticipate we’ll be needing to but really trying to be extra cautious,” Carter said.
The city’s drought plan has three goals: to ensure that all customers have an adequate supply of high quality water during droughts, to ensure that there is enough water in the Sultan River for fish habitat, and to ensure there is an adequate amount in storage for hydroelectric power generation, although that may be suspended in severe drought conditions.
Consumers are asked to be mindful of how and when they use water. Some examples of steps they can take include watering plants or lawns before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m. to reduce evaporation, doing fewer deeper waterings rather than more frequent shallow waterings, fixing leaks in pipes, hoses and faucets, washing cars in facilities that recycle their water, using brooms rather than water to clean sidewalks and patios, and waiting until clothes washers or dishwashers are full before turning them on.