The city of Kennewick will encourage voluntary water conservation among city users and aim to reduce water use at city parks by as much as 15 percent, but it isn’t expecting any further restrictions this summer.
Kennewick Irrigation District officials told the Kennewick City Council during a Tuesday workshop their own conservation measures, including a watering schedule, have led to water savings, but they anticipate demand increasing and supply declining as the summer heats up.
That could lead to more demand on the city’s domestic water supply as city residents look to make up for what they aren’t getting from KID, said public works director Cary Roe. But the city has more water storage and production capacity than it did during the last drought in 2005.
Care still should be encouraged with water use, officials said.
“Right now we believe a voluntary message is the right message,” Roe said.
KID, which pulls water from the Yakima River, is under drought conditions because of a small and quickly melting snowpack in the Cascades. The watering schedule, which began at the end of May, is inconvenient for many users because of its split scheduling, said KID Manager Chuck Freeman, but it has reduced demand.
The city’s water system, which draws from the Columbia River and wells, isn’t under the same strain, Roe said. The city is not close to reaching its peak capacity of 30 million gallons.
Demand is at 16.2 million gallons, up from 14 million gallons last week, he said. The city can’t absorb all the water needs of KID customers, but city officials expect some will resort to using a hose connected to an outdoor house spigot to keep their plants alive.
The city will actively discourage people with other water sources from hooking city water up to in-ground irrigation systems, Roe said, largely to prevent contamination of the city’s water supply. The three city parks served strictly by KID face water use restrictions, and overall water use by parks and recreation facilities will be cut.
“We’re asking them to walk the walk,” Roe said.
Largely, the city will take an educational stance. A media campaign will be used to tell people about how to reduce their water use, and not just when it comes to watering lawns.
It is possible the water shortage could worsen for the city, Roe said, and there are steps the city could take to further limit waste, such as shutting down fountains, limiting car washes and street cleaning or even asking the largest water users, such as the Kennewick School District, to reduce their demand from 15 percent to 50 percent. But such a measure isn’t expected to be necessary.
“We’re not in a water concern as we speak today,” he told the council. “I don’t anticipate that happening this summer.”