Langley water use up, despite efficiency goal

Madeline Olson took shorter showers, installed two low-flow toilets and let the lawn water itself with rain at her Langley home in the Northview neighborhood.

She also put a bowl in the sink to collect any unused water when the faucet was on and rising to the desired temperature and used it for dish-washing and watering flowers and plants.

Olson’s water-saving efforts led to a 64 percent drop in water consumption during July and August of this year when compared to the same months of 2017.

If more Langley residents followed Olson’s lead, the city could be on its way to meeting its water-saving goals, said Randi Perry, utilities supervisor.

Langley adopted a Water Use Efficiency goal in May 2017. Its target is reducing residential water consumption by 2 percent per household average per day in July and August by Sept. 1, 2022.

First year results were not encouraging. Water consumption went up, not down.

Olson, named the winner of the city’s 2018 Water Saver Challenge Award, said she entered the annual challenge because she’s competitive by nature, but she also wanted to reduce her utility bills.

Perry pointed out that other households competing in the household challenge had an average reduction of about half of Olson’s “outstanding reduction.”

“I was interested in the city’s tips for reducing consumption, since I wanted to lower my water/sewer bill,” Olson said. “I also thought it’d be fun to see how I stacked up against others. I’m a little competitive.”

Another factor figured into her lower water readings, she said.

“In 2017, a contractor broke a pipe during installation of a new sink and faucet, and it took a while to find my water shut-off, leading to flooding in the master bedroom,” she said. “Lesson for everyone else: Know where your shut-off is, and make sure your contractor knows this before he/she begins work.”

This is the ninth year of Langley’s water-saving challenge that is issued for July and August, the highest demand months.

Looking at the two months tally of July and August each year, in 2016, total city use was 12,261,872 gallons or 159 gallons per day per household. In 2017, the city total was 13,357,627 gallons or 195 gallons per day per household.

This past summer, total city use 12,261,873 gallons or 176 gallons per day per household.

“We did see a good reduction from 2017 to 2018, but the numbers show a 10 percent increase compared to 2016,” Perry said. “The goal covers a six- year period. The base line is 159 gallons per day per unit. That increased to 195 gallons per day per unit last year and then was reduced to 176 gallons per unit per day in 2018 summer.”

Not using as much water to keep Langley pretty as a picture was a goal this summer of the Langley Main Street Association, Perry said.

“Members worked really hard this summer to reduce water usage and use water more efficiently,” she said. “They reduced watering by 730 gallons per day from the beginning of July to the end of August, all while maintaining the beauty.”

Perry projects overall city usage will be a little higher in 2018 than last year.

However, record numbers of tourists have visited this year which leads to more showers, more toilets flushing, more guest rooms to clean, more dishes to wash at restaurants, Mayor Tim Callison pointed out.

“Water consumption in total may have gone up, but the activity level in the city is on the rise,” he said.

Langley’s water system consists of three wells, an additional emergency well and a storage tank, which are located west of Island County Fairgrounds.

The City of Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant was also lauded at the council meeting for again being in 100 percent compliance with state standards.

It received an Outstanding Performance Award from the Washington State Department of Ecology that evaluates plants for meeting pollution limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, pretreatment and operational demands outline in their permits.

“It’s the seventh year in a row to receive the award,” said Perry, who oversees operations and maintenance of all three of Langley’s water utilities: drinking water, sewer, and storm water.