At a critical time for fish, region maintains 14 percent water reduction

Puget Sound Region (Sept. 23, 2015) While we wait for the fall rains to come in earnest, it remains important for people to reduce their water use. Everett, Seattle and Tacoma continue to ask their customers to reduce water use by 10 percent so that we have enough for people and fish now and later in the year.

This time of year is critical in the salmon life cycle, as they migrate back from the ocean and travel up their native rivers to spawn. Both the amount and temperature of water in rivers affect their ability to conserve energy, avoid predators and successfully spawn.

Everett:  It is the start of spawning season for chinook salmon and fall steelhead in the Sultan River system, which is the water source for Everett’s regional water system. On Sept. 12, the City of Everett released 1,000 cubic feet per second from storage in Spada Reservoir (Culmback Dam) into the Sultan River as a “fish attraction” flow to assist fish in their upstream journey. In the past three weeks, the Sultan River watershed received 10 inches of rain, which raised the water level in the reservoir by seven feet, but the fish attraction flow release  brought the water level back down about a foot. The amount of water storage in the reservoir is still only at 70 percent of normal for this time of year and continues to drop.

Seattle: Seattle Public Utilities continues to provide beneficial flows for salmon, steelhead and trout to supplement lower-than-normal natural conditions in the Cedar and South Fork Tolt rivers, the water sources for Seattle’s regional water system. Chinook and sockeye salmon are spawning in the Cedar, and adult chinook salmon are spawning in the Tolt River. Juvenile steelhead and coho continue to rear in both rivers.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The Landsburg Dam on the Cedar River in Maple Valley provides a safe passage for migrating fish. Passing chinook salmon, coho, trout, steelhead and whitefish can be observed at the dam’s fish ladder. The fish ladder also provides opportunities to sort out sockeye, which are not allowed to pass the dam to protect water quality. Media tours of the Landsburg Dam, fish ladder and Cedar River Sockeye Hatchery are available starting Thursday, Sept. 24. Contact Andy Ryan at (206) 684-7688 to reserve a spot on the tour.

Tacoma: On the Green River, Tacoma’s primary water source, chinook salmon are moving up the river to spawn right now. The utility needs to ensure they have enough cool water during this peak time over the next few weeks so they can successfully complete their life cycle. To help with that, Tacoma Water and its partner agencies will release extra water for a short time – called a “freshet” – from its storage behind the Howard Hanson Dam. Lower than normal flows into the Green River mean the utility must use stored water now to protect the chinook, a threatened species.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The Green River Trap and Sort Facility is running chinook and pink salmon right now. The fish can be seen clearly in an open-top shoot. Media tours of the facility are available. Contact Nora Doyle at (253) 502-8117.

Water reduction goal met
Over the last six weeks, the region has collectively cut back water use by 14 percent. We appreciate what people have done to cut back and thank them for their efforts. Continued water use reductions are needed until fall rains return in earnest and fill our reservoirs back to normal levels.

As the weather continues to cool, customers should think about what they can do to save water inside:

Indoor water-saving tips for residents:

  • Reduce showering time
  • Check for and fix leaks
  • Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Turn off the tap while brushing teeth or shaving
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes
  • If purchasing fixtures/equipment, choose water-efficient models

Indoor water-saving tips for businesses: 

  • Encourage reduced showering times at your facilities
  • Serve water only on request
  • Check for and fix leaks
  • Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Provide new towels only on request
  • Check cooling towers for overflow and excessive blowdown
  • If purchasing fixtures/equipment, choose water-efficient models

The next round of regional water use reduction results will be released the week of  Oct. 7.

Find a graph illustrating the savings and more water saving tips at


Map of service areas of Everett, Seattle and Tacoma

About Everett:
Everett operates a regional water supply system that serves 80 percent of the homes and businesses in Snohomish County. This includes Everett and 95 other cities and water districts and serves a population of about 570,000. Get Everett water supply information.

About Seattle:
Seattle operates a regional water supply system serving 1.3 million people, including residents of Seattle as well as 25 other cities and water districts in King County. Get Seattle water supply information.

About Tacoma:
Tacoma Water supplies water directly to about 316,000 people in Tacoma, University Place, Ruston and areas of unincorporated Pierce and south King counties. The utility also serves relatively small areas within the cities of Puyallup, Fircrest, Lakewood and Bonney Lake.  Through wholesale connections, Tacoma Water serves Auburn, Bonney Lake, Fife, Puyallup and parts of Pierce and King counties. Get Tacoma water supply information.



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