Mayors stress regional need to save water a bit at a time
Posted by Chris Solomon on August 10, 19100 at 17:44:27:
Mayors stress regional need to save water a bit at a time

by Chris Solomon
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Standing in suits in Tom Mar's wilting back yard yesterday, the mayors of Seattle and Bellevue exhorted residents to save water with better toilets, washers and habits.

Call it the bully privy.

It was an odd scene: With his black cap-toe dress shoes on the mowed clover, with a dog heckling him across a fence, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell demonstrated the "tuna-can test:" His Honor set down the can. A sprinkler waved. A full can would mean enough water had been laid down for the week to keep a lawn healthy.

In summer, Seattle gets less rain than Tucson, while an average King County family of four uses 360 gallons of water daily over the season. With a growing popuation, that spells trouble in the future.

By urging modest changes, officials hope to curb water use by 1 percent each year for the next decade. That would save 188 million gallons daily by 2010, or enough to pour everyone in the United States a cool glass of Tolt River agua each day.

"Our whole point is that if a lot of people do a little, it can make a huge difference," said Rich Gustav, manager of resource conservation for Seattle Public Utilities.

As part of the campaign, several low-flow toilets, fixtures and other appliances were also installed in the Mar household in Bellevue's Lake Hills neighborhood.

After Schell's demonstration, Bellevue Mayor Chuck Mosher wheeled a dolly bearing a bright new commode into the house. Spectators trod from the lawn across the Mar family home's white carpet, for a photo op with the glazed white toilet.

"You can cut 10 percent off your water bill just by changing your toilet," Mosher said.

An average household would save 24 gallons of water a day, he said.

As he tightened bolts on the new head, plumber Terry Love said lots of people are skeptical of the newer toilets. They needn't be, he said. 

"A good, high-powered 1.6 will outperform any of the older ones," Love said, sounding more like a mechanic comparing Formula One engines. "They say these things will flush stuffed toys."

In the kitchen nook, homeowner Tom Mar seemed a bit dazed with all that the morning had brought him: first two mayors, then several new toilets that will take some getting used to.

"It just flushes like, fooom!" said Mar, peering down at the floor in a wide-eyed show of his first encounter with the new loo. With five children and a recent two-month water and sewer bill of more than $200, he was also looking forward to seeing some savings.

"I think we'll save a lot more than 24 gallons a day, that's for sure."

Chris Solomon's phone message number is 206-515-5646.

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