Limitations to when, and how often, you water your lawn are on the horizon

SPOKANE, Wash. — Limitations on how much, and when, people in Spokane can water their lawns are on the horizon.

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear put forth the ordinance and she says it’s necessary to maintain the Spokane River.

On Monday, City Council voted 5-2 on a water conservation and drought response ordinance that will enforce citywide water conservation for our water.

As it stands currently, from June through October, you won’t be able to water your lawn from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and you can only water a maximum of 4 times per week and 2 hours each time. When the water in the Spokane River goes below 1,000 cubic feet per second, you’ll only be able to water twice per week and again for only 2 hours each time.

” We use a lot of water in Spokane. We use 202 gallons per person per day, which is, in the 97th percentile. Meaning 97% of the rest of the country uses less than we do,” Kara Odegard, Head of Sustainability Policy & Initiatives for the City of Spokane explained. She says we use 4 to 6 times more water in the summer, and she reminded City Council, that we are not the first city to consider this.

“I oppose the ordinance because we don’t need more bureaucracy to enforce water laws. We don’t need more layers of enforcement,” one Spokane man told City Council. The public commentary continued for almost 2-hours.

“Watering your lawn all summer long in an arid climate is no longer a practical or feasible idea and is certainly no longer a sign of good housekeeping. Good housekeeping today means being good stewards of our resources,” a local woman proclaimed.

Quite a few people had concerns about turning neighbors against neighbors, while others were thinking more long-term.

“Please for the sake of generation and those who come after us, pass the ordinance to ensure we have a future in the city of Spokane,” a young man asked of City Council.

An ice-breaker came from Tom, a man who lives on a property in East Spokane.

“My name is Tom and I’m a water-waster,” he said, as he, along with many others, laughed.

Tom, actually in favor of this ordinance, wished it included more to punish those who had sprinkles running into their hardscape areas.

Mayor Nadine Woodward wrote a letter to the council calling it “punitive.” She would prefer to see an emphasis on potential incentives.

READ: Spokane mayor opposes water restriction ordinance, calls it ‘punitive’

Councilmember Michael Cathcart wanted to focus on incentives instead of penalties, but the council shot down that idea.

READ: City Council rejects Councilmember Michael Cathcart’s alternate drought ordinance

Zack Zappone says this won’t work because our water is really, really cheap.

“It’s only going to save the average person and average household $2.76. That’s not enough to make an impact on someone’s usage. In the winter it would only save them 34 cents per month,” Zappone added.

Exceptions are allowed for new landscapes, and vegetable gardens, to maintain tree health and mitigate wildfire risk.

Any changes, incentives, rates, or surcharges will not start till after December 1st of 2023.

RELATED: Spokane City Council approves drought response ordinance to limit lawn watering

RELATED: Spokane City Council considering ordinance that could restrict when you water your lawn