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Heavy Rains Help Bolster Water Supplies in Seattle, Tacoma And Everett

Ted S. Warren
Washington fans sit in the rain during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Washington and Utah, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Seattle.

Even if you don’t like getting your feet wet, the recent heavy rains are still something to celebrate.

Over the past two weeks, there has been so much coming down that the water supply is almost back to normal in all three of the Puget Sound’s major cities.

Thanks to the recent rains, Seattle, Everett and Tacoma have all now moved to the lowest stage of their water shortage response plans.

Kelly O’Rourke is a conservation planner for Seattle Public Utilities. She says the rain from the Halloween Storm that soaked many trick-or-treaters added 12 and 14 feet, respectively, to the supply reservoirs on the Cedar and Tolt Rivers.

“So our reservoirs right now are about at 92 percent of normal for this time of year. That’s a great improvement,” said O’Rourke. “A few weeks ago they were only at about 60 percent of normal. And that is allowing us to move down to the advisory stage.”

The “advisory stage” means people are no longer asked to reduce their water use by 10 percent through sacrifices like taking shorter showers or not watering lawns.

Still, utilities in all three cities say they are not out of the woods yet, especially with the warm winter that is forecast due to the strong El Nino this year. It will mean lower snowpack. So people should still use water wisely.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to