Temps rise, question looms: To water or not to water?


LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (KOIN) — A week after Vancouver urged its residents to water their lawns to help suppress fires, Lake Oswego issued a stage 1 water alert and told everyone to start conserving.

“The Clackamas River, especially this spring, was running at levels below normal,” Kari Duncan with the Lake Oswego Water Treatment Plant said. “It was these levels that caused us to issue these alerts.”

It’s a completely different story than in Vancouver, where City Manager Eric Holmes told the city council the region has “a tremendous water supply.”

After a brief cool down, temperatures are projected to climb their way back up into the 90’s and even low 100’s. A heat advisory was issued for the entire Willamette Valley, SW Washington and the Columbia River Gorge Wednesday morning through Friday night.

With temperatures high and conditions dry, Duncan said water conservation in Lake Oswego is more important than ever. Silverton and Battle Ground are also urging residents to conserve.

But despite these conservation recommendations, officials across SW Washington and Oregon have similar advice: Water your lawns responsibly to help prevent fires.

“You might want to take a look at your sprinklers, make sure you are only watering your plants,” Duncan suggested. “Don’t water the sidewalks, water in the evening — that’s the best time instead of the middle of the day when water evaporates.”

Lake Oswego residents agree, many of them with conservation tips of their own.

Duncan said to make sure you are only watering your plants, not the sidewalks. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

“If your flowers look good and perky you don’t need to water them, wait,” resident Jacqueline Andrews said. “If they look droopy, water them in the morning then, but don’t water them mid-day.”

In the end, city officials agree: Watering lawns responsibly to prevent grass fires will help save water in the long run.

“We are encouraging folks to keep things green because it will suppress fire,” Duncan said. “It takes a lot more water to put out a fire then it would with the water you save by conserving and not using up the water.”

If water levels continue to drop in the Clackamas River, Lake Oswego will issue a stage 2 alert which will mean more restrictions on water use.

On Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order to reduce water consumption by 15% on state-owned property.

Governor Brown has declared drought emergencies in 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties in response to severely diminished rain and snowfall this year.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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