Here’s some good news for Washington state drought watchers – the Department of Ecology has lifted the drought emergency and the governor’s Executive Water Emergency Committee recommends the drought declaration not be continued for this year.
More Good News
Heavy rains and snow have pulled Western Washington completely out of the woods, with the eastern portion of the state quickly following suit. The U.S. Drought Monitor still shows eastern Washington in the dry to moderate zone, but compared with the report from just three months ago, the turnaround is sizable.
Since much of Washington’s water supply comes from snowpack accumulations, and which are more than 100 percent of normal for this time of year, current conditions just don’t meet the criteria required for the declaration of a drought emergency.
Weather forecasts for through March are for warmer, drier conditions as a result of El Niño, so Washington’s Water Supply Advisory Committee will continue to monitor water supply.
With the current drought emergency declared by Governor Inslee in May, RainBank Rainwater Systems has seen an increase in inquiries about designs and installations for rainwater collection systems from all over the Puget Sound region.
Seattle is topping the list of new customers who are either expanding existing systems, or are first time customers looking into design and installation. Even though Seattle Public Utilities has said they do not expect to see any water rationing, others are looking into that possibility. We all can do our part to conserve the municipal water supplies by only irrigating in the evening and having our cars washed at a facility that recycles its wash down water. Another way to conserve water is by checking for water leaks in our homes and businesses and teaching our families simple conservation techniques.
Of course, installing a rainwater catchment system will help conserve water, reduce stormwater runoff, and protect our lakes, streams, wetlands and aquifers for future generations. Seattle has a unique opportunity to lead the nation in water conservation due to our climate. With 36 inches of average annual rainfall including 3.5 inches average summer rainfall a well-designed system can produce and store enough water to support an average household. Here in Seattle, we do not see extreme cold temperatures during the winter months, so freeze protection of tanks and plumbing is relatively easy to address. Washington State Ecology has determined through study that most roof materials are safe for collecting rainwater for household use. King County Health is proactive in rainwater collection regulations and code writing.
Whether a small system designed for supplementary use, or a large system for whole house demand is desired – any amount of conservation can be achieved.