Like me, I suspect most Seattleites just point eastward toward the Cascades and think “our clean, delicious water flows out of there. . . somewhere.” But the infrastructure, volume, maintenance, and monitoring of our water system is really something.
The vast majority of our water comes from just two watersheds: the Tolt River watershed, 12,500 acres in the foothills of the Cascades, supplies about 35% of Seattle’s drinking water. The Cedar River watershed is far larger at over 90K acres, it lies 35 miles east of the City, and supplies the other 65% of our drinking water. We’re lucky to have most of our freshwater be snowmelt and rain. As SPU’s GM Mami Hara explains,
“I moved here from an east coast city, which like many cities across the country draws its water from local rivers- the same rivers that are used for recreation, industry, and commerce. That river water requires significant processing and treatment with a long list of chemicals before it is considered safe and drinkable. Seattle’s water is different. Our water comes from protected mountain watersheds that are carefully managed to supply (us) with some of the best water in the nation, at less than a penny per gallon.”
Seattle Public Utilities delivers about 120 million gallons of drinking water to the greater Seattle area EVERY DAY! That’s a lot, but still, Seattle’s average home water use is almost half the national average (54 gallons per day vs. 100). Conserving water helps fish & wildlife habitat, not to mention wasting water is just dumb, so SPU reminds you of a few simple ways to help conserve water at www.savingwater.org
Also, keep in mind the water from your tap is just as good, if not better than, most bottled water off the grocery store shelf. And the report mentioned this interesting statistic: at around a penny per gallon, the cost of drinking the doctor-recommended 8 glasses of water daily for one month is fifteen cents. The same amount of bottled water would average out to around $116 (yes, dollars) per month, and bottled water isn’t even as highly regulated as tap water! So. . . get yourself a sturdy, BPA-free water bottle, fill it from the tap as often as you like, and let’s rid the earth of some plastic, shall we?
The report, along with lots of additional info. about our water can be found here. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires this report to be supplied to the public annually. Thanks EPA!