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Water districts to customers: Don't be a hog!

"It's easy to take water for granted.Turn on the tap and there it is, for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, or watering gardens.It's hard to believe there could be a shortage, especially in rainy Washington.But water districts in Silverdale, Bremerton and other parts of the county have launched a campaign to encourage residents to conserve water, especially with a potential drought shaping up for the summer.The Silverdale Water District has trotted out its Waterhog as the porcine poster boy for county water wasters.The poster pictures a Hawaiian-shirted, aqua-loving pig knuckles-deep in a puddle, sloshing water from a full pail while wrapped in his green, free-flowing garden hose.Missives around this image identify his faults: Waterhogs make their lawns so soggy, they can almost dive in and do laps, Waterhogs use 50 gallons flooding their driveways, instead of drycleaning them with a broom and Waterhogs can't wait. They have to run the dishwasher before it's fully loaded.It's not the first year the Silverdale Water District has used the Waterhog icon to promote conservation, according to director Morgan Johnson. We've used the waterhog for a number of years, on t-shirts for Whaling Days, and last year in partnership with the fire department, to encourage water conservation, he said.This year those efforts are being stepped up. For instance, the district is providing free household conservation devices to customers.One of those devices is a toilet dam, a piece of blue plastic fitted in the tank that acts like a reservoir so all the water doesn't go down. Five to seven gallons are lost with every flush, Johnson said.The district also offers water-restricting shower heads, with openings from the pipe smaller than a regular shower head, and restrictors for faucets.Most of the homes built in the last 10-15 years have these ... and meet all the requirements for low-flow fixtures, Johnson said. We're targeting homes built before 1993.The water district also provides dye tablets to determine if there's a slow leak in the toilet.Leaky toilets are another high user of water, said Johnson. The tablets go in the tank, and if the dye appears in the toilet, there's a leak.Taking shorter showers is also a good water conserver, he noted: Five minutes is plenty for a shower.The Silverdale Water District also provides the means for customers to perform indoor water audits to see if there are leaks elsewhere in the home.Johnson encouraged people to visit the district's Web site at www.SWD16.org.The Silverdale Water District coverage area runs roughly from the Fairgrounds area to Willamette Meridian Road, north to State Route 308 and south to the Chico area, Johnson said.Other major water suppliers include the cities of Bremerton, Poulsbo and Port Orchard, the North Perry Water District and Kitsap Public Utility District. They have combined their conservation efforts in the Water Purveyors Assoiation of Kitsap, or WaterPAK task force.The city of Bremerton, which relies mainly on surface water supplies, has requested customers voluntarily reduce water use by 10 percent, due to the record low rainfall over the past year.No watering restrictions are currently in place, but there is a general concern about water supplies (for) the long term if the rains don't return in the fall, said former WaterPAK chairwoman Mindy Fohn, who left the group June 22.Kathleen Cahall, Bremerton's water resources manager, said the city's surface supply reservoir (at Casad Dam on Gold Mountain) is currently 35 percent below desired levels. And the city will be relying more on groundwater supplies through the summer, she added. We need rain.So far, in response to a March conservation advisory, We've seen a 6 percent reduction (in water usage) and May was unusually warm. We were surprised and pleased, Cahall said.We just got the June data, and it looks like we're continuing to have people conserve. We haven't had a drought of this magnitude since 1977, she added.When full, the reservoir holds 1.3 billion gallons. It currently contains about 800 million gallons.Cahall said in a normal year the reservoir provides about 65 percent of the city's water, with the remaining 35 percent coming from wells.This year the statistics are reversed because of the low levels of the reservoir. We want to save the reservoir water to make sure we meet peak demands in July and August, Cahall said.On any given day in the summer demand increases 30-100 percent, just because of outdoor water use. The average day demand is eight million gallons. During the summer we see it go up from 10 to 14 or 15 million gallons per day, Cahall said.For more information call Bremerton's customer response Line at 478-5920, or visit the city Web site www.ci.bremerton.wa.us.Tips for conservationAccording to a Bremerton Public Works Department report, the average person uses about 100 gallons of water per day. Following are some ways to reduce water use by about 10 gallons per day: * Fix toilet leaks.* Flush toilet one less time each day. Avoid using the toilet as a waste basket.* Turn off faucet while brushing teeth and shaving, rather than letting water run.* Wash one less load of laundry and clothing per week, and wash only full loads.* Replace worn washers on faucets.* Sweep driveways and sidewalks instead of spraying them.* Water lawns and gardens between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to reduce loss to evaporation; water lawns one inch per week; mulch to retain moisture.* Use a rain barrel to collect roof runoff. As little as 0.1 inches of rainfall can fill a 55-gallon barrel.* Aerate lawn to help water reach roots.* Always use a nozzle with a shutoff on your garden hose.* Cool water for drinking by keeping it in a pitcher in the refrigerator, rather than running the tap for cold water. "

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