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Rules Don’t Help Limit Water Use On Palouse

Sun., March 5, 1995

Government codes make it difficult to conserve water, even if the supply is running short, say participants in the Palouse Water Summit in Moscow.

When Christina Baldwin approached Pullman officials about building a home with a water recycling system, the well of support ran dry, she said Friday.

State and local codes make it difficult for residents to reuse gray water from sinks and washing machines to irrigate gardens or lawns.

Neighbors’ wells are going dry, and those drilling new wells are not finding water.

Water use on the Palouse is increasing steadily, with the annual ground-water pumping of Pullman, Moscow, the University of Idaho and Washington State University reaching 2.8 billion gallons last year, compared with 2.5 billion in 1993, according to the PullmanMoscow Water Resources Committee.

That is despite a decrease in Washington State’s water use through conservation efforts such as switching to a computerized sprinkler system.

Advocacy groups like the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute have been working to educate the community, University of Idaho economics professor John Wenders said. But citizens need financial incentives.

“Don’t fall into the trap of just thinking you are going to run around persuading people to conserve. People do things best when they have their self-interests at stake,” Wenders said.

He said cities should stop charging monthly water rates and start metering water use.

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