No water worries here



Worries about possible drought conditions across Washington this summer aren’t reaching Federal Way.

Officials at Lakehaven Utility District, which serves the city and other parts of King and Pierce counties, expect water supplies to hold up with the help of conservation-minded customers.

“The little slogan we use, ‘Use water wisely,’ has been taken to heart by a lot of people,” said Lakehaven Commissioner Don Miller.

The state Department of Ecology cautioned last week that because spring has been relatively dry and the National Weather Service predicts warmer-than-normal weather for the rest of spring and summer, droughts are possible in parts or all of Washington. Officials said it’s not too early to be conserving water.

Lakehaven encourages the same through several voluntary programs. In one of them, calendars were sent recently to the district’s approximately 30,000 water customers with dates for the outdoor watering schedule that’s based on odd and even-numbered home addresses.

The conservation message apparently gets through. The highest single days of water consumption in the district since 1992 have varied little, despite the addition of 26 percent more customers, said Donald Perry, Lakehaven’s general manager.

The district has attempted to keep supply ahead of demand over the years, and current aquifer (underground water) levels should be enough this summer, Perry said.

“We’re fortunate” to have three major aquifers to draw from as needed, Miller noted. He added the district plans ahead as much as 50 years “to be sure we won’t be caught short.”

As for conservation, “people do get it. When they turn on the water, they realize they’re using a resource,” Miller said.

Nevertheless, state officials urged efficient use of water statewide, including in gardens. Homeowners should landscape their yards and gardens to minimize watering, said Joe Stohr, manager of the Department of Ecology’s water resources program.

During the summer, nearly 40 percent of municipal water statewide is used for outdoor irrigation, according to Stohr. During peak summer days, outdoor water consumption can reach as much as 3,000 gallons a day per home.

“As demands on our water supplies increase, we need to find ways to use our

water wisely. If everyone can save a little bit, it can make a big

difference for communities, farms and the environment,” he said.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

Ten tips for saving water in yards and landscaping:

1. Select plants that grow well in the Northwest, including native plants. Local nurseries or garden clubs can help.

2. Choose drought-resistant plants to help reduce

water use.

3. Set lawn mowers’ height at about two inches to encourage deeper, healthier roots and retain moisture.

4. Leave the clippings when mowing. They help retain moisture and become fertilizer as they break down.

5. If water won’t penetrate, try aerating (poking holes) or a de-thatching device to remove thick masses.

6. Make soil healthier by raking a quarter-inch layer of compost into lawns after aerating.

7. Spread organic mulch (wood chips, bark, leaves or needles) around trees and shrubs to conserve water.

8. Use a soaker hose or drip system on gardens to reduce evaporation and runoff. On lawns, water in early morning or evening.

9. Water slowly, or start and stop, so water can penetrate. Wait to water again until plants are drooping.

10. Group plants that have similar needs for water, sun and soil together, then plan irrigation to give each group just what it needs.

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