North Bend city council unanimously passes water conservation ordinance, goes into effect this summer

After a town hall, other public comment opportunities and a few changes, on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, the North Bend City Council unanimously passed a new Water Conservation Ordinance (WCO). The vote was 6-0, with Councilmember Rosen absent.

The WCO goes into effect this summer – on August 15, 2020. It applies to all homes within the city limits, including Sallal Water Association customers who are in the city limits.

In May, North Bend City Administrator David Miller explained the focus of the ordinance was the city’s overall water consumption and conservation, which involved mitigation water, consumption and upgrading / fixing water system deficiencies. The next round of city comprehensive plan updates will also include a Sustainability Element, which will require water conservation measures.

In discussions about the city’s Centennial water right and its required mitigation, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) had also encouraged the city staff to implement a comprehensive water conservation program.

North Bend’s WCO addresses spikes in city water use which interfere with maximizing its two water rights: Mt. Si Springs the Centennial Well. Those spikes result in purchasing of mitigation water and typically occur from mid August to late October.

Only the city’s Centennial Well water right requires mitigating 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. City officials have 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 WCO Changed Based on Public Feedback

Over the past month, city staff made a few changes to the proposed water conservation ordinance based on public feedback. A major change was creating ‘large lot standards’ for maximum water usage.

Lots larger than .75 acre are allowed approximately 100 gallons more daily water usage than those under 3/4 acre. All properties can also increase maximum water usage if home occupancy exceeds the city average of 2.88 persons per household.

Some smaller ordinance changes included determining when a drought is in effect based on the the water level at Boxley Springs masonry pool (where North Bend purchase mitigation water); removing the option to shut water off to repeat WCO violators during a drought; lowering violation penalties; and changing the time when lawn watering is prohibited during droughts – was 10AM to 10PM and is now 10AM – 6PM.

See full North Bend Water Conservation Ordinance 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 6PM. 

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  • So we are being penalized for the over building that the City of North Bend did and is continuing to do with no regard for water usage. Part of the whole build it now and we will fix it later attitude.

  • Can anyone realistically expect a city council member who owns a business in town to vote against development, even if that development creates more use than the city’s infrastructure can handle? More residents = more business = more money in that council member’s pocket. Who’s going to say no to that? Not our City Council.

  • North Bend is running out of water, and they are still allowing development. Why not stop development so the water problem at least doesn’t get larger? Seems like the North Bend leadership’s priorities are not quite correct.

  • I agree Brett, the water Moratorium was lifted and they wasted no time over building North Bend. People get rich and the environment and people later suffer.

  • Living Snoqualmie