City set to begin conservation efforts

MARYSVILLE On the surface, the numbers appear huge.
Were going to have to make some efforts, said Public Works Operations Manager Terry Hawley. But weve been working toward it for quite a while. We knew this was coming.
Hawley added residents wont notice much of a change unless they decide to participate in what are for now strictly voluntary water conservation efforts.
Under a state mandate passed in 2003 and taking effect next month, municipal water systems across Washington are being required to slice their annual water consumption.
For Marysville, the goal is to cut usage an average of 63,780 gallons a day next year. For 2009, the figure jumps to 80,260 gallons. By 2013, the citys ultimate goal arrives: a seemingly whopping 136,000 gallons per day.
Hawley admitted the numbers sound ambitious. But he also noted Marysville pumps an average of 5.7 million gallons a day. He estimated that in order to meet initial goals, residents could spend approximately 30 seconds less in the shower or flush their toilets just one fewer time each day.
As part of its response to the new rules, Marysville joined forces with several other communities in forming the Everett Water Utilities Committee. The committee helped determine the conservation goals of each member community, including Marysville.
As the city uses approximately 7 percent of the water pumped by all members of the Everett based group, it will be asked to conserve about 7 percent of the committees overall conservation goal of some 1.65 million gallons per day. Hawley said numbers will be adjusted if water usage rises due to increased population or the arrival of new businesses.
In at least one way, Marysville is ahead of the curve set by the state. Rules call for municipal water systems over a certain size to have leakage rates of 10 percent or less. Hawley said he likes to talk about unaccounted for water, but in any case, the rate in Marysville is 3 percent. The city determines the rate partly by comparing the amount of water used to the amount of water for which someone receives a bill.
We monitor our pipes very closely, Hawley said.
In many areas of Marysville, he added, older, cast iron water pipes still are the norm. But the city flushes and cleans those pipes on a regular basis. The work removes sediment collecting in those older pipes and prevents other problems. Still, it might also add to the amount of water the city is seemingly losing track of.
If were flushing a pipe, we dont necessarily know exactly how much water we are using, Hawley said.
Public education represents a big piece of the citys conservation efforts. The city preaches conservation efforts through the schools and Hawley claims students do a pretty good job of passing information along to parents.
Conservation information also is available on the citys Web site. The city is pushing water saving devices such as low-flow toilets. The Snohomish County PUD also offers rebates on water and energy efficient household appliances.
The state mandates conservation efforts be open and well publicized, but a public hearing on the issue attracted little attention. City Council must adopt its initial water conservation goals by Jan. 22.

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