The Gardner Report is an analysis of the Western Washington Real Estate Market, provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. This is a great starting point to building more knowledge and helping you make better informed real estate decisions.
For more information about the real estate market in YOUR area, we have monthly Neighborhood-specific reports, as well as, our own Q3 2017 – analysis and Seattle area Report. If you have more questions please contact your Wall Street Group (of Windermere) Broker.
The Washington State economy added 79,600 new jobs over the past 12 months—an impressive growth rate of 2.4%, and well above the national growth rate of 1.2%. However, as we anticipated in last quarter’s report, we continue to see a modest slowdown in the growth rate as the state grows closer to full employment. Growth has been broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than Aerospace (a function of a slowdown at Boeing). Given the current rate of expansion, I am raising my employment forecast and now predict that Washington will add 81,000 new jobs in 2017.
Given the robust job market, it is unsurprising that the state unemployment rate continues to fall. The current unemployment rate in Washington State is 4.6% and we are essentially at full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report reported either a drop or stability in their unemployment rate from a year ago. I maintain my belief that the Washington State economy will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole. Given such a strong expansion, we should also expect solid income growth across Western Washington.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 25,312 home sales during the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.6% over the same period in 2016.
- Clallam County maintains its number one position for sales growth over the past 12 months. Only four other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. This demonstrates continuing issues with the low supply of listings. There were modest declines in sales activity in six counties.
- The market remains remarkably tight with listing inventory down by 14.2% when compared to the third quarter of 2016. But inventory is up a significant 32% compared to the second quarter of this year. Pending sales rose by 5.2% over the same quarter a year ago, which suggests that closings in Q4 will still be robust.
- The key takeaway from this data is that inventory is still very low, and the situation is unlikely to improve through the balance of the year.
- Given tight supply levels, it is unsurprising to see very solid price growth across the Western Washington counties. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12.3% to $474,184. This is 0.9% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
- With demand far exceeding supply, price growth in Western Washington continues to trend well above the long-term average. As I do not expect to see the new home market expand at any significant pace, there will be continued pressure on the resale market, which will cause home prices to continue to rise at above-average rates.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Grays Harbor County where sale prices were 20.1% higher than the third quarter of 2016. Nine additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
- Mortgage rates in the quarter continue to test the lows of 2017, and this is unlikely to change in the near-term. This will allow home prices to escalate further but I expect we will see rates start to rise fairly modestly in 2018, which could slow price growth.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by eight days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
- King County continues to be the tightest market, with homes taking an average of 17 days to sell. Every county except San Juan saw the days on market drop from the same period a year ago.
- This quarter, it took an average of 43 days to sell a home. This is down from the 51 days it took in the second quarter of 2016 and down by 8 days from the second quarter of this year.
- At some point, inventory will start to grow and this will lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. However, I do not expect that to happen at any time soon. So we remain in a seller’s market.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the third quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as the second quarter. Though price growth remains robust, sales activity has slowed very slightly and listings jumped relative to the second quarter. That said, the market is very strong and buyers will continue to find significant competition for accurately priced and well-located homes.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
Here is the full Gardner Report.
Washington State is a National Leader in STEM!
In 2013, the state of Washington passed a bill to significantly improve its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning opportunities and educational outcomes for K-12 students. Simply put, Washington schools, government, and non-profit organizations have teamed together to create more ways to give our children opportunities to learn and apply STEM skills. Each year, more opportunities arise, more grant money is budgeted, our children get excited, and a brighter future is painted.
Why is STEM important?
So, you may think STEM education has been around since you were in school. Unless you participated in Science Fairs and went out of your way to expose yourself to STEM activities, you probably only scratched the surface of what is available to children today. Traditional education teaches about cool technology, math equations, and engineering marvels. STEM education goes a step further and puts the student in the driver’s seat and creates opportunities to put their education to work. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn how to build a robot? Code a program to control the robot? Or use the robot to gather samples of ecosystems in the Puget Sound? With real-world application, students are given the opportunity to get excited about possible career paths at an early age.
- education standards and curriculum quality education will increase
- high school graduation rates will increase
- job satisfaction will increase
- the global economy will increase, beginning in Seattle
- there will be a greater number and quality inventions
- the poverty level will decrease
- the price of education will decrease
Washington STEM put together an amazing video outlining what STEM means and how students can thrive from STEM education.
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=27&v=DT5wR70lNDY” title=”Washington STEM – Inspire, Engage and Unleash Potential” description=”Washington STEM advances excellence, innovation, and equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for all Washington students. Our vision is to see all students succeed in thriving communities all within a vibrant Washington state.” upload_date=”Nov 29, 2016″ /]
STEM is Important for Seattle
Let’s be frank for a minute. Consider the industry that has moved into Seattle. No, we’re not talking about all of the construction. We’re talking about the tech industry that is creating all of the construction. Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Expedia (and the list goes on) are continuing to grow and change the landscape of Metro Seattle – not to mention the other giant corporations like Boeing, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nintendo, Weyerhauser, and Windermere. The employees that these global companies are looking for are (for all intense and purposes) STEM employees. That said, 30% of their tech-savvy and STEM employees are transplants (not from Seattle).
The more foreign employees these companies recruit, the more real estate construction and buildings will be built to accommodate them. Following all of these employees will be more consumer businesses, restaurants, traffic and more advancements in the city infrastructure, and ultimately a bigger Metropolitan area.
The changes in Seattle are happening and will continue for years to come. The key to growing with the city is to acclimate our children to the new and future economy. Resources are widely available and access is becoming easier.
How can my child get involved in STEM education?
There’s a good chance your student is already involved in STEM education at school. Beginning in preschool and Kindergarten, students in Seattle public and private schools are provided with workshops, classroom learning and out of classroom exposure to STEM education. Middle and high schools offer clubs and organizations to further their interests.
Extra-Curricular STEM Opportunities
Help us expand our list! Let us know which STEM Ed opportunity opened your student’s eyes.
STEM Success Stories
STEM grads step right into the future by The Seattle Times
A life-changing summer in Seattle for six STEM students by PATH – Stories of innovation and impact
Inside the pioneering Seattle area school that’s shaking up how STEM education is taught by GeekWire
Bertha has left the tunnel, finally. What’s next?
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mc9TswBvGU” title=”Bye-Bye to Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine” description=”This time-lapse video captures the difficult and challenging work to disassemble the world’s largest-diameter tunneling machine. For four months, crews cut, hoisted and trucked away 8,000 tons of the machine’s equipment and steel, removing it from inside the tunnel it had built. Up next – finishing the double-deck highway inside and installing all the operating systems to open Seattle’s new SR 99 tunnel by early 2019.” upload_date=”Aug 23, 2017″ /]
As of August 24, 2017, Bertha has been completely disassembled. Bertha was working for nearly 4 years under the objective of a much larger project, The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project. If you weren’t keeping up with Bertha and what the largest tunnel boring machine has been up to, less than 215’ below downtown Seattle [view the simulation below], here’s the highlight reel.
- 2008 – The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project officially began (primarily legislation, planning, mitigation, and demolition)
- 2009 – WOSCA building demolition
- 2010 – Pier 48 demolition
- 2011 – SR 99 Tunnel project kicked off (mitigation and structural work)
- 2011 – Demolition and repair of the South end of the Viaduct
- 2012 – Cedarstrand building demolition
- 2013 – Bertha began digging, boring, tunneling, and doing what “she” does. (Bertha was named after Bertha Knight Landes, elected mayor of Seattle in 1926)
- 2014 – North Tunnel Access construction began
- 2016 – South Tunnel Access construction began
- 2017 – Bertha completed her boring and tunneling
…so, what’s next?
- 2016 – South Tunnel Access construction began
- 2017 – Bertha completed her boring and tunneling
- 2018 – Connections between Tunnel, Access, and surface streets
- 2019 – SR 99 Tunnel completion and open to the public
- 2019 – Demolition and decommissioning of Alaskan Way Viaduct
- 2019 – Begin Alaskan Way Surface Street Project
- 2023 – Complete Waterfront and Alaskan Way Street
A Glimpse into 2023
When the entire Alaskan Viaduct Replacement project is completed (2023), Seattle will have a brand new 1.7-mile-long tunnel, an additional mile-long stretch of highway at the south end of the tunnel, new Alaskan Way street, new Alaskan Way Waterfront, Elliot Bay Seawall, and a seismic-safe way to travel. The current budget stretching into 2019 (when the tunnel will be open to the public) is set at $3.2 Billion. Another $149 Million may be needed to complete the program, estimated 2023. We can’t wait to see the entire project completed in all of its glory (and to have some major construction wrapped up around here). What are your tunneling thoughts?
Extras for your entertainment
[one_half padding=”0 10px 0 10px”]
Did you know? Bertha actually built the tunnel behind her as she bored through the earth.
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Osls8K1IbjY” title=”Building a highway inside a tunnel” description=”This video shows how Seattle Tunnel Partners crews build the highway inside the SR 99 tunnel in Seattle. For more information, visit www.alaskanwayviaduct.org. SHOW MORE” upload_date=”Jul 13, 2016″ maxwidth=”300″ /]
[/one_half][one_half_last padding=”0 10px 0 10px”]WSDOT simulation, taking you underground along the crown of the tunnel.
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWfwnkEbc4Q&feature=youtu.be” title=”Proposed SR 99 Bored Tunnel Underground Simulation March 2010″ description=”The Washington State Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, King County, the City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle, is leading a program to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct section of State Route 99, which runs along Seattle’s downtown waterfront.” upload_date=”Mar 16, 2010″ maxwidth=”300″ /]
Visit Milepost 31 for a museum-like tour of projects that shaped Pioneer Square and the SR 99 Tunnel project.
It may seem like we say this a lot but, no two Seattle neighborhoods are the same. They each have distinct “personalities” that makes them unique. Without each neighborhoods’ quirks and characteristics, Seattle wouldn’t be the beautifully awe-inspiring city that it is.
So, which neighborhood is the best? Probably the one you’re currently living in, right? Or maybe it’s the one you gravitate to every time you need to throttle your taste buds, kick back with some culture, or loosen your inhibitions with some libations. We all have our guilty pleasures. So, just like all of the different quirks of each neighborhood, we have our own interests and idiosyncrasies.
How do you choose the best neighborhood? What do you look for?
- Culture – hip, relaxed, business, young, family, lively
- Music – jazz, theater, party, street performers
- Food – seafood, Asian food, food trucks
- Drinks – beer, liquor, wine
- Proximity from home – worthy of a stay-cation, close enough to frequent and far enough to maintain priorities
If you’re having trouble nailing down your favorite neighborhood, then maybe you need to do some more exploring. Where to start? Our best advice is to ask your close circle of friends and family for their favorite spots to explore. There’s a reason you like them…they probably have some similar interests.
One of our Agent’s makes it a point to find a new restaurant every week.
One of our Office Staff never does the same hike.
Another Agent randomly picks an activity out of the Stranger Things each week.
These are great ways to get to know a neighborhood and area, but also an excellent way to test your comfort level. We’ve also put together a collection of idea sources at the end of the article.
Our favorite neighborhood?
Sorry if you thought we were going to take a hard stand and tell you which neighborhood is the best. That just wouldn’t be our style. We believe all neighborhoods are beautiful in their own right and it would be rude of us to pick our favorite.
Ok…we’ll tell you, but don’t tell anyone. Coincidently, our favorite neighborhood (and we believe this wholeheartedly) is the same one that you think is the best. See we’re kind of similar. 😉
Ready to tell us your favorite neighborhood?
Here’s a cool collection of neighborhood recommendations from Airbnb hosts. The hosts provide their recommendations and rank the neighborhood by their own standards. Although we might have some different things to say about this list, it’s pretty thorough and intriguing.
Here’s a short list of the 15 Best Neighborhoods in Seattle, from Seattle Magazine. Again, it’s not our opinion of the best neighborhoods, but the article offers some insight into what the neighborhoods are all about.
Things to do
Here are some excellent publications to spark your exploration around Seattle’s neighborhoods. You might even find some discounts and freebies.
Atlas Obscura – Guide to Hidden Seattle
BuzzFeed – 28 Unexpectedly Awesome Things to do in Seattle
Curbed: Seattle – 22 Things to do in Seattle with Kids
Groupon – Things to do in Seattle
Seattle Met – 10 Quintessentially Summer Things to do in Seattle
Stranger Things – Things to do in Seattle this Week
The Crazy Tourist – 25 Best Things to do in Seattle, WA
Thrillist – 33 Free Things to do in Seattle
TripAdvisor – Things to Do in Seattle
USAToday:10 Best – Exploring Seattle: Activities Free of Cost, Rich with Delight
Viator – Seattle Tours, Tickets, Activities & Things to do
Take a stroll around any Seattle neighborhood. No two neighborhoods are the same. They each have distinct “personalities” that makes them unique. Yet, without each neighborhoods’ quirks and characteristics, Seattle wouldn’t be the beautifully awe-inspiring city that it is.
So, what is it about Seattle that makes it so unique? Why do people gravitate to Seattle? What is it that gets people talking all day and staying up all night? What is it that makes people fall in love with Seattle?
How do you fall in love?
We’ve been tossing around this idea of Seattle’s stimulating senses…join me on this journey really quick.
As you begin to connect and fall in love with someone, you typically excite some powerful senses about them, right? Think about it. Think about your current or last love (try to be positive).
- Do they have a smell? Maybe their hair smells like roses, their neck smells like fresh cookies, or maybe you can’t get enough of their sweat after an intimate game of “tag.” 😉
- What do they taste like? Does your mouth salivate at the thought of them?
- What do they look like? Think more about HOW you see them. Are their eyes like the ocean – deep, powerful, hypnotizing, and mysterious – but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to look away; you drown in them?
- How do they sound? Does their laugh make you laugh? When they share an intimate secret with you, does nothing else matter? When they sing, does the rest of the world go silent?
- What do they feel like? Is their silky-smooth skin like the landscape of your dream destination?
Seattle’s Stimulating Senses
Now think about Seattle. Everywhere you go, you’re showered with beautiful sights (e.g. the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden, the Great Wheel) and alluring smells (e.g. food trucks, nature hikes). And depending on the activity, your senses could be amazed with sounds (e.g. Seattle Theater, Pike Place Market, a Seattle Seahawks game), tastes (e.g. any of Seattle’s incredible restaurants, your favorite coffee, your neighborhood Sunday market), and textures (e.g. the SAM, the gum wall, hiking). Seattle’s ability to touch several senses at once helps to solidify that experience in your memory and seduces you to explore further.
Check out more ways to fall in love with Seattle.
It’s no secret. Look at the skyline. Cranes are everywhere you look – even when you’re not looking! Big and small; on buildings and on the ground; some operating on weekends and through the night. Today, roughly 60 cranes are operating in Metro Seattle.
But this conversation isn’t limited to cranes. For instance, Bertha certainly doesn’t need a crane. It’s a “boring” project.😜
There is massive overhaul happening in Seattle. Residential, commercial, government, transportation, and private developments are creating an entirely different future for this wonderful city. So, we’ve compiled the top 7 projects with the biggest price tags and with direct impact to Seattle; noted the objective of each project, our biggest takeaway. Although the projects’ stake holders are ultimately seeking to gain a substantial return, each project has huge economic promise to our city. And we couldn’t be more excited!
Click the project title to view the project site (if applicable).
Objective: To protect critical infrastructure and utilities while enhancing the habitat through this area
Scope: 3,700 feet
Total Cost (estimated): $410.2 Million
Funded by: The City of Seattle
Duration (estimated): January 2016 – mid-2017
Objective: To provide commercial and residential space in the following capacities: Residential Housing (740 units), Retail (60,000 sq. ft.), Hotel (297 rooms and conference space), Office (180,000 sq. ft.), Parking (720 stalls)
Scope: 1.5 Million sq. ft.; 3.85-acre site
Total Cost (estimated): $517 Million
Funded by: Stadium Place Investors LLC
Duration (estimated): 2010 – 2025
5. Amazon Tower II
Objective: To serve as Amazon Headquarters (accommodating approximately 23,000 employees), and permanent home for Mary’s Place Homeless Shelter
Scope: 1.1 Million sq. ft.
Total Cost (estimated): $550 Million
Funded by: Amazon
Duration (estimated): 2012 – 2018
Objective: To provide space for retail, events, parking, and approximately 3,900 direct and indirect jobs.
Scope: 30-story residential tower; 16-story office building; 250,000 sq. ft. of underground parking; 1.5 Million sq. ft.
Total Cost (estimated): $1.6 Billion
Funded by: Washington State Convention Center
Duration (estimated): September 2017 – 2020
Objective: To extend the Link Light Rail from UW Husky Stadium to Northgate Seattle
Scope: 4.3-miles long; link rail and connecting stations
Total Cost (estimated): $2.1 Billion
Funded by: Federal grants, motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) and local sales tax
Duration (estimated): 2012 – 2021
Objective: To replace The Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel that bypasses Downtown Seattle. Along with the tunnel, the project includes several mitigations and miscellaneous projects to reshape the SR-99 corridor.
Scope: Tunnel: 1.7-mile long (less than 215′ below Seattle); New Highway: 1-mile long stretch; demolition of The Alaskan Viaduct
Total Cost (estimated): $3.2 Billion
Funded by: State, Federal and Local sources, as well as the Port of Seattle and tolls
Duration (estimated): 2008 – 2023
Check out the Viaduct Demolition Open House on Thursday, August 10, 2017.
Objective: To extend the Link Light Rail from Redmond and Bellevue to International District Station
Scope: 14-miles long; link rail and connecting stations
Total Cost (estimated): $3.7 billion
Funded by: Sound Transit
Duration (estimated): April 22, 2017 – 2023
What do you think about all of the construction? Good? Bad? Share this article directly to your Facebook with the link below.
Check out more LIVE topics.
The Gardner Report is an analysis of the Western Washington Real Estate Market, provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. This is a great starting point to building more knowledge and helping you make better informed Real Estate decisions.
For more information about the Real Estate market in YOUR area, we have monthly Neighborhood specific reports, as well as, our Q2 2017 – Seattle Metro Report. If you have more questions please contact your Windermere-Wall Street Group Broker.
Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017.
Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976.
I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016.
- Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County.
- The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.
- Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187.Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.
- Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than second quarter of 2016. Eight additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
- The specter of rising interest rates failed to materialize last quarter, but this actually functioned to get more would-be buyers off the fence and into the market. This led to even more demand which translated into rising home prices.
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by 18 days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
- King County remains the tightest market; homes, on average, sold in a remarkable 15 days. Every county in this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop from the same period a year ago.
- Last quarter, it took an average of 48 days to sell a home. This is down from the 66 days it took in the second quarter of 2016.
- Given the marked lack of inventory, I would not be surprised to see the length of time it takes to sell a home drop further before the end of the year.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. To define the Western Washington market as “tight” is somewhat of an understatement.
Inventory is short and buyers are plentiful.
Something must give, but unless we see builders delivering substantially more units than they have been, it will remain staunchly a sellers’ market for the balance of the year.
Furthermore, increasing mortgage rates have failed to materialize and, with employment and income growth on the rise, the regional housing market will continue to be very robust.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
Here is the full Gardner Report.
Let’s be Honest
Whether we admit it or not, we’ve all made some unwise financial decisions. Remember that one time you spent $100 too much at the local watering hole? Or how about last weekend when you needed some toilet paper and walked out of the store with 5 bags of feel-good snacks? Or every night that online shopping gets the best of you? Financial advice and conversations of money saving tips are nothing new. We’ve all needed help at some point, the problem is its just not that simple and there’s not a one size fits all solution to saving money.
This article from MarketWatch, 7 real ways for millennials to save money (not by brown-bagging and skipping Starbucks) discusses some great rational (and somewhat brash) tips for Millennials to save money. Although it’s geared toward Millennials, anyone (of all ages) would be wise to take a look. Living in Seattle, we’re surrounded by technology, fast-paced shopping, and immediate vices, so this is advice we could all put in our pocket.
Below is the list of tips, in no particular order, for millennials (or anyone) to save money. As the 7th tip will point out, we’re all different. What works for someone else may not work for you, so try things out and customize your habits to benefit your financial wealth.
- Live like a college student for a few years
- Skip the starter home
- Skip the new car
- Focus on your fixed costs
- Make more money
- Understand yourself
Remember, we’re all living in this beautiful world of Seattle together. Help your neighbor out and share your money saving tips and what works for you below.
Are we using up all of our water?
As most of us are Human. 😉 We need water to stay alive. We also need this magical substance for hygiene, cooking, farming, making alcohol, and of course all of our Seattle water activities (fishing, sailing, paddle boarding, floating, riding on ferry boats, etc.). Considering everything we use water for and knowing less than 1% of the Earth’s water is available for consumption, you may wonder if we’re in danger of using it up. Well, here’s the quick and short answer from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
While population and demand on freshwater resources are increasing, supply will always remain constant. And although it’s true that the water cycle continuously returns water to Earth, it is not always returned to the same place, or in the same quantity and quality.
Key takeaways – water is not always returned to the same place, or in the same quantity, or quality. Basically, we’re not going to use it all up, but we need to be mindful that what we do to the water isn’t always natural.
How does the water flow to my tap?
Now we can ask questions like, “where is my water coming from,” and “where is my money going.”
In Seattle (and 22 other cities and utility districts), our primary source of water comes from 2 major watersheds. About 65% comes from Cedar River Watershed and about 35% comes from the Tolt River Watershed. The water embarks on a journey down the mountains to two treatment facilities for testing and treatment to ensure safety. Finally, after a thorough examination of the water, it travels through 1,900 miles of pipeline to your faucet.
Of course, the process is more complex than flowing water, which includes:
- 2 protected mountain sources
- 2 state-of-the-art water treatment facilities
- 1,900 miles of pipeline
- 13 reservoirs
- 14 storage tanks
- numerous pumping stations
- over 600 employees (for testing, treating, repairing, monitoring, building, and protecting)
- 1.4 million people to drink and use the water in their homes, businesses, and public facilities
So that’s where your water comes from, and hopefully gives you a better understanding of what you’re paying for. Which, by the way, bottled water is not as heavily regulated and can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than tap water.
Conserving saves money!
Now let’s talk about what you can do to conserve your Seattle water…and let’s save you some money while we’re at it.
Brushing your teeth
We all like the sound of water, but running it while you brush your teeth is unnecessary. Turning the water off as you brush your teeth could save, on average, 7 gallons per day.
Wait to do laundry until you have a full washer.
Did you know washing your dishes by hand can waste as much as 20 gallons of water? Invest in a dishwashing machine. Look for the ENERGY STAR endorsement.
Fix your dripping faucets and leaky toilets. An efficient faucet could save up to 570 gallons of water per year.
In 2000, Seattle founded the Saving Water Partnership. The partnership is comprised of 19 local water utilities dedicated to providing water conservation programs to their customers in Seattle and King County. The Saving Water Partnership has helped Seattle and the nearby cities save 9.6 million gallons of water per day (from 2000 to 2010) and built some pretty awesome rebates (queue excitement).
Us Seattleites are pretty environmentally conscious and we do most of these things without a thought, but there’s always more we could do. What are some other water saving tips that you use? Share this article and include your tips, by clicking on the share button below.