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A drought emergency declaration that includes the Dungeness River basin was made by Governor Inslee on May 20, 2019, due to snow pack conditions that are less than 50 percent of average for this time of year around the state.
Precipitation has been remarkably below normal in parts of western Washington. The total February to April precipitation averaged over the western Olympic Peninsula ranked as the third driest since 1895 with about a 13.5-inch deficit compared to normal.
The Cascade Range is affected as well. For example, boat-only accessible campgrounds in Ross Lake National Recreation Area are closing for the summer because the reservoir is now 25 feet below normal due to a decline in snowpack and rainfall.
Further, the weather outlook for early summer includes warmer and drier conditions. This will create additional snowmelt early in the season and further reduce available water supplies later when they are needed most.
Extreme low-flow conditions are predicted for some Peninsula rivers, so far including the Elwha and Skokomish. (https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-availability/Statewide-conditions)
Residents are Encouraged to Conserve Water
Wise water use is what you do every day. It’s about using the water you need, but not a drop more. Conservation is a tool you can use during droughts when you need to be extra water wise, and conserving water outdoors is especially helpful during warm weather.
Some ways the City encourages you to conserve water at home include:
Stop watering grass. Where you must water, use a shut-off nozzle, adjust sprinklers to avoid over-watering, irrigate only in early or late hours and not every day.
Avoid using water for outdoor play and minimize time with hoses left running.
Mulch your garden and improve the soil to reduce water loss.
Wash your car at a facility that recycles its water.
Avoid draining swimming pools or do it infrequently.
Indoors, only wash full loads in the clothes washer and dishwasher, use low-flow showerheads and toilets, compost rather than using the garbage disposal, and be water wise in general. More information may be found here: https://www.home-water-works.org/water-conservation-tips/home
In addition to conserving, always fix leaks on your property right away and report leaks if you find water continually surfacing in dry weather. If your water bill seems abnormal it may indicate you have a leaking toilet, faucet or water line.
Remember that water utility rates increase when water use is above 600 cubic feet, and rise again when use exceeds 1,600 cubic feet.
Conservation practices are voluntary now since the City’s water sources are not at imminent risk of shortage, but if the area’s water supply conditions worsen the City may choose to impose restrictions on outdoor watering.
Fortunately, City of Sequim is well situated to continue serving its customers in drought years because:
Several of our large wells are deep.
Conservation practices by our customers in the past have effectively reduced demand during the summer months.
City parks are kept green because they are irrigated with our Class A Reclaimed Water rather than potable municipal supplies.
Monitoring is conducted to allow staff to track conditions in the aquifer on a daily basis.
The City draws from several different water sources for its supply which affords redundancy in times of emergency.
City facilities are able to serve our municipal customers during a drought, but we are aware that sources of recharge to the groundwater system are declining over the long term. In order to ensure that a water shortage does not occur decades into the future, staff work closely with other stakeholders in the Dungeness watershed to manage our limited water resources and maintain a safe, adequate water supply.
Detailed water saving tips are included in the City’s flyer “About the Drought” (see www.sequimwa.gov or contact Public Works by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information, contact City of Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington at (360) 681-3439 or email@example.com.