Editorial | Water is ours to save

A comparative graph of water usage for Mercer Island. - Photo/City of Mercer Island
A comparative graph of water usage for Mercer Island.
— image credit: Photo/City of Mercer Island

Finally the weather is warm — maybe too warm for Puget Sounders. The hot days make us forget the buckets of rain that fell just weeks ago. Yet despite all our whining, Seattle ranks a distant 44th among United States cities for rainfall. With an average yearly rainfall of a mere 36.2 inches here, 145 inches of precip falls in the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park, 129 inches in Hilo, Hawaii, and 60 inches in New Orleans.

As much as we worry about using our natural resources wisely, we often forget about water which seems as if it is infinitely abundant.

And now that it is high summer, lawns and gardens are thirsty and tinged with brown. The sprinklers and hoses come out in force to compensate.

Across the board, the city is making a concerted effort to move toward sustainability. As part of that, a recent mailing to residents regarding household water use aims to get people thinking about how much water they use. The letters show customers how much water they use as compared to their neighbors. It is simple but potentially powerful information. This kind of data, given to us already on energy use by PSE, is easy to understand. Over time residents can monitor how much they use or better yet, save, from month to month as well as year to year.

The city and other agencies have plenty of ways to help consumers can less water and hardly know the difference. There is gear and equipment, low-flow this or that, and other monitoring and restricting devices. However, if you can’t squeeze in a trip to the hardware store or aren’t in the mood to spend money, there is something you can do right now. It all involves manipulating time: how long and when you use water. Conserving water can be as easy as setting a kitchen timer when the sprinklers are on and watering at night. Or if you’ve got a teenager at home and you can stand the screaming, set one in the bathroom to limit shower times.

Good luck.

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