North Bend brings Water Conservation Ordinance back to council, if passed would take effect summer 2020

At its May 5th meeting, the North Bend city council will have a first reading of a revised water conservation ordinance (WCO).

Last April the council was presented with a different WCO, but after resident pushback over some of the water usage restrictions, the council tabled the proposed ordinance and staff began doing more research to improve the ordinance.

Additionally, in recent meetings with the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) regarding the city’s water right and the required mitigation in that water right, city staff was encouraged to implement a comprehensive water conservation program.

The program includes multiple strategies to conserve water like replacing faulty water meters, fixing water delivery system leaks and adopting a water conservation ordinance.

According to Interim City Adminstrator David Miller, “The City has a provision in our municipal code for the Public Works Director to practice conservation, but it has very little detail and DOE finds it lacking.”

Miller explained the focus of the proposed ordinance is the city’s overall water consumption and conservation, which involves mitigation water, consumption and upgrading / fixing water system deficiencies. He said the next round of city comprehensive plan updates will also include a Sustainability Element, which will require water conservation measures.

“DOE wants good conservation measures in place so that the level of mitigation is lowered and North Bend is following environmentally-driven water policies, and showing good stewardship of water use,” said Miller.

The latest draft of the WCO addresses spikes in the city’s water use which interfere with maximizing its Mt. Si Springs and the Centennial Well water rights. Those spikes also require the purchase of mitigation water.

North Bend’s Centennial Well water right requires the city to mitigate water to the Snoqualmie River during dry months. The amount is determined by in-stream flow gauges. The city purchases mitigation water from Seattle Public Utilities Hobo Springs.

The water right also requires North Bend to have a back up mitigation source. The city has been working with Sallal Water Association to be that back up source, which is the preferred plan of Washington DOE.

According to the City’s water consultant, Golder Associates, implementing the WCO “will ensure water supplies without the need to provide additional mitigation water sources for another 20-30 years.”

North Bend is joining approximately 20 other special districts and cities from around the region in the Saving Water Partnership, an environmentally appropriate conservation program designed to reduce water consumption and save consumers money.

The city’s Water Conservation Program also includes new programs that will offer technical assistance and grants to residential and commercial property owners to reduce water usage. It would help fund things like changing plumbing fixtures, re-landscaping with low water use plants, changing irrigation systems to drip systems, and helping find leaking water lines on private property.

North Bend’s proposed ordinance would apply to all city water customers AND and Sallal Water Association members living within the city limits. If passed it would take effect the summer of 2020.

According to North Bend city staff, the ordinance is a ‘work in progress.’ It has gone through significant revisions to respond to community and City Council concerns. A staff reported says it is being introduced as a first reading at the May 5th city council meeting to encourage public comment for possible improvements before adoption.

Miller said, “Some ordinance measures are subject to change. It will  be reviewed at least twice by the City Council, who also held a work study on the ordinance and overall conservation program on April 28th.” He added,  “There are plenty of opportunities to comment on the Ordinance and the City welcomes comments.”

The May 5th City Council meeting will be conducted entirely online due to the COVID-19 stay home order. See Instructions on how to
access the meeting and provide public comment HERE.

North Bend WCO Components

Stage 1 of the WCO would automatically begin each August 15th and run through October 31st. During this time period watering of yards is limited to nighttime hours and the city can enforce ‘wasteful’ use of water.

Stage 2 of the WCO can only be instituted if low water levels exist at
the Hobo Springs Masonry Pool where mitigation water is sourced. Watering would be limited to three days per week at night.

Stage 3 of the WCO includes all conservation measures in stages 1 and 2 and further limits watering to just one day per week. It would be implemented if a severe drought was impacting the Snoqualmie Valley and river levels were extremely low.

Wasteful Water Use includes things like significant water run off from a resident’s property; causing or allowing a significant amount of water to discharge; allowing water fixtures, heating or cooling devices to leak or discharge water after becoming aware of the issue; maintaining ponds, waterways, decorative basins, or swimming pools without water
recirculation devices or with known leaks; discharging water from, and refilling, swimming pools, decorative basins, or ponds in excess what’s reasonably necessary to maintain them; continued operation of an irrigation system that applies water to impervious surfaces or is in disrepair; use of a water hose not equipped with a control nozzle capable of completely shutting off; watering lawns or landscaping when it is raining; overfilling any pond, pool, or fountain; watering lawns or landscaping between the hours of 10AM and 10PM. Read all wasteful uses HERE.

As currently proposed, violators of the WCO would first receive a notification of the issue, along with a request to fix. If not corrected, a second written notification and issuance of a notice to correct violation could be issued – with a penalty of up to $25 a day for City Customers and up to $1,000 a day for Non-City Customers. If a third notification is required, it could be the issuance of an administrative penalty up to $100 a day for City Customers and up to $2500 a day for Non-City Customers – with discontinued water service and/or other penalties as provided in the Notice of Violation.

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  • So the city has a water problem and plans to make customers suffer the consequences. . Well, what about all the money the city took from DEVELOPERS? Seems to me the city made a killing and has actually put our water sources in danger. It also seems to me to be a city problem and the CITY should take responsibility and not put the burden on the residents!!! Typical government plan. Just tax the people when things don’t work out!!

    1. Not to mention tripling and quadrupling my water bill especially when they read the meter late and then quadruple my charges. Where does that money go by the way? In their pocket?

  • We had a water shortage before and building was stopped. Then somehow it was lifted and developers have built large neighborhoods as fast as they could. The water shortage problem was never fixed so why did the city and King County allow all the development of new housing?

    1. Construction began again when DOE approved a new water right for North Bend – the Centennial Well water right about 10 years ago. That well has a lot of water. All new water rights issued these days have mitigation requirements to protect river levels during dry months. Older water rights do not have the same requirements – so North Bend’s other water right, Mt Si Springs does not have mitigation tied to it. Neither does Snoqualmie’s water right used to supply all Snoqualmie customers. Currently during those dry months North Bend essentially has to put some water back into the Snoqualmie River for water used from its Centennial Well during that time period. It purchases that mitigation water from Seattle Public Utilities Hobo Springs. Less water used means less mitigation water to purchase from SPU during the dry months.

  • It would have been very easy to use less water had the city not approved all the new development. Where is the limit? Are we just allotted less and less water each year while development continues unchecked. Eventually the WCO is going to say showers only on Mon, Wed, Fri and no cooking pasta on Tuesday…Water is not and infinite resource…

  • Living Snoqualmie