U.S. Water News Online
SEATTLE -- At least 24 utilities in King, Pierce, and
Snohomish counties could face water shortages in the next 20 years
unless they find new supplies or start conserving more, a new study
The rest of the 158 water utilities surveyed in the
recently-released ''2001 Puget Sound Regional Water Supply Outlook''
should have sufficient supplies through 2050.
The two-year study focused on balancing the needs of people and
fish. It took into consideration leaving more water in rivers for
fish habitat, which could mean less water for utilities.
``If we could do a better job of sharing water in an
environmentally responsible manner, we know that we could resolve
many water supply problems for people and fish for the foreseeable
future without relying on development of expensive new sources of
supply,'' said Ken Merry, superintendent of Tacoma Water.
The projected shortages wouldn't affect customers, but could
restrict further development, said Guillemette Regan, regional water
policy manager with Seattle Public Utilities.
Tacoma Water is the biggest utility that could face a shortfall.
Others include Kent, Spanaway, Issaquah, and North Bend.
However, most of the utilities in danger of running short have
started planning to keep that from happening.
In Tacoma, a second pipeline to carry water from the Green River
is expected to be completed by 2006 -- at a cost of about $235
million -- and should help ensure the utility has enough water
through 2050, Merry said.
The pipeline would travel through Kent and Covington, two King
County utilities facing shortages, and could help them as well, he
Most of the other utilities are small or in significantly growing
areas, said Diana Gale, managing director of Seattle Public
The study identified potential water supplies from additional
conservation, reusing water or using storm water. Everett Public
Works is designing a system to use wastewater in cooling systems,
said Jim Miller, that utility's engineering superintendent.
Utilities need to work with the Legislature, Gov. Gary Locke, and
state agencies to create better laws dictating water permits, Gale
``We do not want to be the next crisis,'' she said, referring to
the Legislature's stalemate over transportation issues in the state.
But that does not mean shirking environmental responsibilities.
``We have to do that,'' Merry said. ``We're not suggesting we not
meet our environmental obligations.''
The study was commissioned by a forum formed in 1998 that includes
many of the water utilities and the local governments of the three
The forum will continue to meet to study solutions to the water
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