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"Law treating developers as local governments when acquiring state water rights"

Wait, what? Holy crap. I'm not necessarily expressing disgust or horror because I'm such a socialist or whatever. But wow. That's a pretty fascinating concept.

As for the water figures: Gotta be the damn lawns and the horribly sloppy landscaping companies.

Take the greenstrips along the roads in Liberty Lake. There is no reason to have a lawn there. During the summer it always starts to get brown, so the landscapers start to douse it with water AT 12 NOON IN AUGUST. Mmm... evaporation loss much?

They pour so much water onto the grass that it is literally under water. Take a look at it and you will see that the sod is like 5 inches thick due to overwatering. Of course overwatering hardly prevents the brown spots. Maybe they are trying to create a peat bog under there for heating after peak oil? I just do not know. It makes absolutely no botanical, aesthetic, economic or ecological sense.

I'm pretty convinced that one day, my grandchildren will find pictures of that landscaping gone mad and curse me and my entire generation for wasting our precious drinking water on such nonsense.


That 1.3 million people is not just the city of Seattle but the suburbs as well. As we all know 200,000 is just the city of Spokane and we don't know if that water usage figure includes the Valley or any other suburbs around Spokane.

That said conservation needs to make hugs strides in this area but just like gas nobody wants to think about it when it's so cheap.

Silent Bahb

Having grown up in a drought area, constantly having to conserve water, the common Spokanite's cavalier attitude towards water has somewhat surprised me. The opportunity here is to institute some very basic conservation measures - things as simple as education campaigns and minor rule changes. For example, Portland instituted both a series of public service announcements aimed at residents who overwater, etc. as well as some simple things like requiring restaurants to use high pressure, lower flow sprayers at their dishwashing stations. The funny thing was, in that case, the dishwashers generally liked the new sprayers (more effective at blasting off food, etc.) and the water usage of such establishments dropped dramatically.

Small steps can have a great impact on water usage, especially in a location like Spokane with little or no existing controls.


Just look at the lawns in this town. As a Californian who grew up in the drought years where we learned to take five minute showers, put bricks in toilet tanks and replace acres of pointless, carpet-like grass with real plants and gardens it looks almost criminal. Ugh.

I watched a broken sprinkler pipe from a Wells and Company building pour thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of gallons of water down the storm drain during the course of four days this weekend before it was finally fixed.

Spokanites could do much better if they even just thought about their water usage. We had education in elementary schools about conservation and I doubt that Avista does that.

D Huygens

The whole lawn-watering thing is definitely a cultural difference. Growing up in Spokane I helped my Dad install his sprinkler system. Automatically, twice a day the whole yard gets doused.

When I bought my house on the westside it took several years before I felt comfortable letting the grass go dormant in July/Aug. just like my neighbors.


It’s a shame how much water we [spokanites] use. In Olympia they had these wonderful signs that said “My lawn is not dead; its just sleeping”, I could use that sign to help assure my neighbors everything was okay as they mow, wacked, and water their verdant landscapes.

I thought I got a notice that Spokane changed their rate structure. That true?


Good point MK - another thing, it is due to state and local laws that we have massive green belts and super wide streets (makes everything 'pretty') and also Dept of Ecology rules that virtually forbid any rainwater harvesting because according to the Wash St Constitution, the rain is state property and it is illegal to take state property for private use - ABSURD!


Being water-conserving doesn't mean you still have an acre of grass and then you let it die every year.

Think of all the fertilizer that get poured into those lawns, the pesticides, the petroleum spent mowing and edging.

You can have your cake and eat it too - still have greenbelts and front yards - but you have to work with nature instead of against it.

This area has beautiful native grasses, flowers and plants that would not only beautify a streetscape, but use very little water. It would also give spokane a distinct "look" as opposed to the standard green swash. Lady Bird Johnson pushed this concept in Texas in the '60s and now their roadside native wildflowers are a point of local pride.

Silent Bahb

That's very true, SN. It's as important, if not more important, to consider the type of plants when landscaping. Using more native plants, those that have evolved to survive our unique climate and soil conditions, would definitely have an impact on water usage.

Also, I'm curious if these figures are for residential users only or do they include industrial users as well? When you factor in large water using industries, the number of gallons used per person will always be insane. Not only that, but if you ignore the industries that use most of the water and focus only on residential water uses (and green medians, as that seems to be where this conversation is going) then you can't ever make a dent in the water usage because you're not addressing the worst offenders. It's akin to the laws in California in the 90's that banned the use of charcoal lighter because of the air pollution they cause, but ignored the true polluters - industry and cars.


I'm sick of this. When you water your lawn do you think that water disappears? When you take a shower it doesn't get directly converted into carbon. It is NOT like burning gasoline. So we use 180 million gallons a day. It's not like it's gone. It goes back into the river, the atmosphere, the aquifer. Be more worried about the things that get added to the water along the way. And there are water treatment plants for things like this.

Also, this article doesn't give specifics. Is it referring to Seattle only or does it include areas like Bellevue and Bothel? And for Spokane, does the area in question end at the city limits? Or are some agricultural areas taken into account? Does it include Spokane Valley? Before you accept all this data as fact question its authenticity and validity. Numbers can be faked/massaged very easily to give desired results.

In Spokane we are blessed with a river AND a bountiful aquifer. In California I did this... in Seattle I had to do this... Well, in Somalia you would have to be a little more careful about your food intake. Think about that next time you have to have your $6 latte to get going in the morning or 24 oz steak for dinner. You're thinking, but we have plenty of food here, why should I go without? Well, Spokane has plenty of water. Deal with it.


My neighbor in Brownes Addition waters his vacant lot everyday for 10 hours a day. No joke. I'm hoping he's an environmentalist attempting to spawn a wetland. But, I doubt it. I'm sure there are MANY more people like him around the town.


So what? As long as he's not affecting anyone (flooding anyones basement, causing erosion on someone else's property, watering their house or lawn or car) or stealing the water (is paying for it, has rights to it, etc) I don't see what the problem is. I would just be glad that he's just spraying water around and not dumping used engine oil on his empty lot.

Now don't get me wrong "Law treating developers as local governments when acquiring state water rights" is totally wrong and I hope it doesn't stick around. And when someone waters their lawn at noon I'm fine with that, but if a government (Spokane as an example) waters at ludicrous times that's a bother. That wasted water from evaporation is coming out of my and your pocket.


Zardoz you are case in point. Thank you for proving everyone else's point.

Just because you have something, and I should point out that Spokane is actually considered high desert, doesn't mean you should waste it.


Zardoz - I'm with you baby ! I'm dealing with it - let that water run fast and furious by golly !!

I just turned the facets on full-throttle in both of my bathrooms, our kitchen and even our outdoor spickets are in on the action.

Its beautiful - hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gallons of pristine water are gushing out from all types of really neat places as I write this email. The sound of the water gushing is so loud, its almost deafening.

Son-of-biscuit ! Just checked the water meter and it is having a hay day !!

Never mind I'm adding increased energy demands on my local water filtration and sewage treatment plants. Or that the more water I consume and waste, means less water for the local wildlife which depend on fresh water habitats to survive. And this water that is flowing right now may not be here for my grandkids. Its no biggie, its not like I'm dumping used engine oil on an empty lot. So what ???

Its only water - if we want more all we have to do is turn on the facet ..... right ???


I never said that they should, just that they can. And if people can, they will. Look at our current obesity problem, but I don't see anyone calling for food rationing. Once water becomes more scarce people will use it more sparingly. Look at ridership on Spokane Transit (buses) since gas hit $4. Sure there will always be that guy watering his lawn 10 hours a day (or driving a hummer) but he's going to pay through the teeth for it.

My point it that if people can afford to do it, and there is no law against it, they should be allowed to do it whether it's the 'good' thing to do or not. On the other hand, I do hate to see waste. I hate that everything is wrapped in three layers of plastic, that most food has something added to it (sugar, salt, etc) when I wouldn't add it myself, etc etc.

Please stop saying that water is wasted. The effort of pumping the water there is wasted but the actual water isn't. It's absorbed back into the enviroment.


Can I just add that Andy pretty much is my new hero?

Silent Bahb

Andy, you rock.

Zardoz, angry much?

Seriously, an attitude of "we have it now so we can use it however we want" is exactly the blasé attitude that prevailed with policymakers through the 70s and 80s, and we all know what wonderful things we did to the environment in those decades.

On top of that, keep in mind, Zardoz, that not all of the water hitting the ground gets to the aquifer. There can be significant loss due to evaporation (depending on the time of day, etc.). On top of that, lower level strata and fracture lines can shunt water away from the river, even if it's considered "downhill". Add to that the fact that much of the water we spray on our lawns (and yes, I’m part of that “we”) is tainted as it flows into the groundwater aquifer by fertilizer, pesticides, and in my lawn’s case, copious amounts of dog droppings. Not all of that is filtered out through the ground, including nasty things like VOCs and most hydrocarbons.

On a side note, it's amazing how polarizing water rights can be, isn't it?

SF Columbia

Whenever someone in Seattle starts talking about Spokane, it's usually to: a) look down their noses at us; b) they want something from us; or c) both.

Hold on to your wallets...and your water rights...

You all don't want to pay water rates like they have over there...trust me. There's nothing wrong with choosing to conserve something and educating people on the value of conservation...but that should be my choice...not forced upon me by a bunch of regressive, luddite, busybody, doom and gloomers who think I have too much grass in my yard.

Whiskey's for drinkin'...water's for fightin'


Paul: I had no idea that rainwater rights worked like that. Combine that fact with the bill that the Supreme Court shot down - doesn't it make you wonder if that law wouldn't have provided an opportunity for some clever, progressive-minded developers to start using rainwater in a way that the state hasn't been.

I wonder if SF Columbia's philosophy that whiskey's for drinkin' and water's for fightin' might not explain a bit about Zardoz's posts... :P


I grew up in CA in a constant state of drought awareness. When I was a teen in the 70's we had a consumption limit of 50 gal per person per day. Yard watering on even/odd days, etc. I still practice many of the conservation methods I learned down there here in Spokane. But when I was shopping for a city to live in when it became clear I could no longer afford to live in the city I grew up in, I chose Spokane. Why? It was beautifully green. Trees, lawns, flowers! Not junipers, scrub oaks and ornamental grasses. Green is why I love it here. Please don't stop watering, just don't waste. It's not that hard.

SF Columbia

As I was looking out the window to day a the grounds of the school near my house...I began to wonder how much water that facility uses.

Then I began to wonder about all of the parks in Spokane and how beautiful the grass and flowers and foliage looks throughout the summer.

Then I began to think of all of our governmental institutions...office buildings, school buildings, parks, pools etc....and how much of the 180 million gallons of water a day is used by government.

Then I began to wonder why I need to water my lawn less; take shorter showers; catch rain water; pay higher rates when the largest user and waster of water is government.

When Manito Park is fallow in the summer, I'll stop watering my lawn.


Yeah, Darn right Spokane! Stand up to the man.

You drive that Hummer and water your lawn! Freakin' hippies from Seattle always tellin' us how to mow 'err lawns. I'm gonna pour a gallon of motor oil down the storm drain while I'm at it. That will teach the government to waste water.

When they stop wasting, I'll stop wasting too.

Conservation is for wusses!

Silent Bahb

I love this thread. :o)


Er, folks, you can't conserve water when the supply exceeds the demand, as it does in this area. All the water flowing through the aquifer and the rivers will make its way to the sea, whether we use it first or not. It cannot be stored for use by future generations. Water use restrictions here would not "conserve" anything. It is merely a pretext for forfeiting more control over the economy (and thus everyone's life) to policians, bureaucrats, and lawyers.

I'd hoped that someone with the city's utility dept would comment on that Seattle/Spokane water use comparison. The discrepancy is so great that it has to be an apples/oranges comparison.

Silent Bahb

That really depends on your definition of "conserve", Contrarian. Conserving water in this case doesn't mean banking it for use elsewhere. Who says we have a right or responsibility to use everything available? The less water we use, the more beneficial it will be downstream - whether for use by people or in other, natural benefits.

I do agree with you on one thing, it's hard to really get into this without a clear understanding of the methodology, etc.

SF Columbia

Here's the crux of the matter:

"But the court's ruling denying the developer's water rights did not apply to municipalities, which traditionally have been able to claim water rights far into the future, escaping "use-it-or-lose-it" provisions in state law."


"Attorneys were unsure Wednesday whether Rogers' ruling would require a city such as Spokane to forfeit all of those unused water rights, or only some. Generally, municipalities have some leeway not to use all their rights immediately because it takes time for a city to build its population and its water system."

It's not about hippies in Seattle or Hummers (there's more in Seattle than the entire INW combined) or whether some folks can capture enough rain water to run their grist mill and have enough left over to water the horse so they can ride the buggy into town to protest the latest development on the South Hill.

It's about water-rights and who needs 'em and who has 'em. If little old Spokane uses more than it needs (in some folks' estimation) but still has extra rights...and the perfectly gleaming Emerald City with all of its justness and righteousness needs more than it has...well then...they'll get it and our future growth over here will be constrained because once you give up water-rights you don't get them back.


You all know the phrase, "don't believe evertyhing you read." It applies in the story written by the Seatttle PI reporter, who alleges the City's 200,000 residents use 180MGD of water per day. And thank you MK for raising the issue of whether the City serves other areas. The City of Spokane is the water purveyor for not only City residents, but the Spokane International Airport, Gieger Corrections, and the West Plains/Moran Prairie areas of unincorporated Spokane County. It is significant to note that the West Plains area includes many industrial and commercial users who are not counted as "residents". In addition, the City provides water to other cities and water districts including the City of Airway Heights, Whitworth Water District and Spokane County Water District No 3. The point: the water ussage is not limited to 200,000 people that reside within the city limits of Spokane, but a much larger geographic area and includes commercial/industrial users as well. Thus, it is inaccurate to say 200,000 people use 180M of water. I also question the PI Reporter's source for 180MGD? Where did this come from? According to the City's Capitical Facilities Plan, 190,000 city residents used 65 MGD in 2000. I doubt it has tripled in only 8 years.


"The less water we use, the more beneficial it will be downstream - whether for use by people or in other, natural benefits."

Not so, Bahb, unless there were shortages downstream. And there aren't.

"It's about water-rights and who needs 'em and who has 'em. If little old Spokane uses more than it needs (in some folks' estimation) but still has extra rights...and the perfectly gleaming Emerald City with all of its justness and righteousness needs more than it has...well then...they'll get it and our future growth over here will be constrained because once you give up water-rights you don't get them back."

How are they gonna get 'em, SF? Build an aquaduct over the Cascades? Any water we use here, whether "wasted" or not, is not available to Seattle via any economically viable means.


And you would need to water your lawn in Seattle... why?

Of course they use less water. Their cars get washed for free, their lawns get watered by God, and produce comes from Mexico instead of Green Bluff (probably included in Spokane usage statistics).

But for those here who want to conserve (without giving up a green lawn), there's always synthetic grass:



....or turfallo...

SF Columbia

Contrarian: why was Spokane and it's "excess" usage and capacity even involved in an article about a development located near Seattle?

All one has to do is look at all the water storage and delivery infrastructure related to the Colorado River watershed and the constant battles over water rights to see a possible vision of the future. The less water used in Spokane the more water downstream or capable of diversion and storage.

It seems to be to be a 2 prong strategy: 1) forfeiture of water rights to stunt growth (not just here but throughout the state; and 2) forfeiture of water rights to redistribute the capacity to other areas (such as Seattle which has to ration water usage during the summers).

Silent Bahb

Forgive my ignorance, but is there even infrastructure in place or even planned to serve the Puget Sound area with water from our area? It would seem that the Cascades make for a pretty hefty barrier to that idea.

(And when did this become an argument about Seattle taking our rights? I thought we were just talking about a comparison of usage here.)

Marc Driftmeyer

What a useless story. Not one ounce of fluid dynamics, control systems measureents and actual data acquisition behind an Abstract with zonal distribution mappings to back up any of this theory.

Please. If the Spokesman-Review had any brains it could contact my alma mater, WSU and the department of Mechanical Engineering/Electrical Engineering about the best way about doing an actual engineering management report on the uses of water in the Spokane Area.

Nevermind the fact that the Department of Ecology is requiring the flow rates this year to be much greater than normal, due to the massive snowpack, nor the fact that the volume includes the power generation Avista uses during testing of their modular Power Grid project with WSU, et.al.

Waste of time but don't ask this Mechanical Engineer. We love to take a communication's major's write up in a newspaper or a blog as fact, instead of contacting people who did more than get piss drunk 4 times a week at WSU and write their way to high grades.

Silent Bahb

Marc, as much as I agree with you, if mech. engineers wrote articles in the paper I imagine their readers would drop off in droves. Who wants to read a full engineering management report except engineers?

If you want to recieve respect for your area of expertise, you can't do it by bashing other peoples' area of expertise.

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