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Bonney Lake may see another dry summer

The National Weather Service is predicting another dry and warm spring and summer.

After Bonney Lake faced water shortage problems during last year's summer drought, predictions of another dry summer is cause for concern.

However Bonney Lake city officials are confident they are ready for anything.

"We will not have trouble with water this summer," Mayor Bob Young said. "After last year's surprise drought we are much more aware. Last year taught us something about water. You can catch us once, but not again."

The Department of Ecology is heeding the warning from the Weather Service by asking gardeners and homeowners to use water efficiently and to design landscapes for low or moderate water needs after they are established.

"As demands on our water supplies increase, we need to find ways to use our water wisely. If everyone can save a little bit, it can make a big difference for our communities, our farms and the environment," said Joe Stohr, who manages Ecology's water-resources program.

The DOE states that during the summer nearly 40 percent of municipal water is used for outdoor irrigation. During peak summer days, outdoor water consumption can reach as much as 3,000 gallons a day per home.

These DOE landscaping tips for saving water can be applied to any site.

€ Plant right for the site. Select plants that grow well in the Northwest environment, including native plants. Local nurseries or garden clubs can help.

€ Choose pest- and drought-resistant plants. These plants help reduce water use and the need for pesticides.

€ Set the lawn mower at the right height. Setting the mower height at about two inches encourages deeper, healthier roots and helps retain moisture.

€ "Grasscycle" - leave the clippings when mowing. They help retain moisture and provide free fertilizer as they break down.

€ If water won't penetrate, try aerating or de-thatching. Aerating (poking holes) helps air and water get into the soil. If a thick layer of stems and surface roots (thatch) has built up, a de-thatching machine can remove that, or aeration will help, too.

€ Build healthy soil with compost. Rake a thin (1/4-inch) layer of compost into lawns after aerating. On new garden beds, mix in one to two inches of compost before planting.

€ Use landscape mulch. Spread a 1- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch like wood chips, bark, leaves or needles around trees and shrubs to conserve water, prevent weeds and build the soil. On flower beds and gardens, use compost, leaves or grass clippings as mulch.

€ Use an efficient irrigation system. Use a soaker hose or drip system on landscape beds to reduce evaporation and runoff. On lawns, run sprinklers in early morning or evening.

€ Water smart. Water slowly, or start and stop, so water has time to penetrate. Wait to water again until plants or lawn show signs of drooping - over-watering just promotes plant diseases.

€ Plan and design landscapes according to water, light and aesthetic needs. Group plants that have similar needs for water, sun and soil together for landscaping, then plan irrigation to give each group just what it needs and no more.

Residents can have a beautiful yard and garden without using a lot of water.

Some save even more by going for the gold and letting their lawn go golden during the summer months.

For more information go to DOE's Web site at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/drought/wtrcnsv.html.

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