The hot weather has arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and it looks like it is going to stay for a while. Even though Lake Whatcom, the source of the City's water supply, is not dependent on snowpack, the lack of rain and sustained statewide drought is reminding us to conserve the water used for non-drinking purposes.
The high temperatures and subsequent evaporation is decreasing the water level of Lake Whatcom to levels normally seen in late August. With long term weather predictions calling for continued high temperatures and low rainfall the lake levels will continue to drop. Residents are doing a fantastic job with water use efficiency. The City is asking for continued efforts of residents and to be especially diligent this year with water conservation.
The City places priorities for water supply on customer needs, public health and safety, fish habitat, and other environmental concerns. Conserving water will help the community meet all of these needs.
Suggestions for outdoor water needs:
- Let your lawn get a tan. Your lawn is not dead, it's just sleeping. Save water and save yourself some work and let your lawn get a tan. Even watering a little each day or week can be a waste of water as none of it gets to the roots. It will green up again in the fall.
- Follow the Voluntary Outdoor Watering Schedule. Effective June 1 to September 15, the City requests residents with odd-numbered street addresses to limit outdoor watering to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Residents with even-numbered street addresses water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Mondays are non-watering days to allow reservoirs to recharge after the weekend. For more information, visit the City's outdoor water conservation page.
- Get a free hose timer. Water your garden efficiently and conveniently with a free hose timer from the City. Available at City Hall in the Finance Department.
- Give garden beds the good stuff: a nice thick layer of mulch. With a few inches of mulch, plants get the nutrients they need and insulation to prevent water from evaporating out.
- Plant native and drought-tolerant plants. If you don't use your lawn and want to save time and money on maintenance, design and install a sustainable landscape that is both affordable and beautiful. Free classes are available in the spring and fall.
- Water in the morning between 7-10 a.m. This will reduce evaporation loss when watering at other times of the day.
- Install a drip irrigation system. These are water efficient, low cost, easy to install, and easy to use.
- Install an active rainwater harvesting system. Put a grey, rainy day to good use by collecting rainwater to water the yard, flush a toilet, wash clothes or even for drinking purposes with proper treatment. Each year, Bellingham gets approximately 35 inches of rain that can be used for free!
- Alternatively, practice passive rainwater harvesting. Let the land do the dirty work: passive rainwater harvesting systems use land shaping and other techniques to direct, collect and infiltrate rainwater directly into the soil for beneficial use. For more in-depth information, see this rainwater harvesting guide.
- Install high efficiency fixtures. Rebates are available for qualifying toilets and clothes washers to residential utility customers that participate in the Community Energy Challenge. Free Water Conservation Kits and hose timers are also available at City Hall.
Implementing any of these options can help meet outdoor watering needs, responsibly and sustainably. For more information, contact the Water Use Efficiency Program at (360) 778-7800.