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Water Conservation


At the public meeting on September 20, 2022, the Commissioners established a water conservation goal of 5%. This goal will be achieved through the following actions:

  1. SHWD will be undertaking a project to replace many of the water distribution lines in the district with new lines. These new lines will be less susceptible to leaks.

  2. SHWD will be exploring ways to recirculate backwash water back to the head of the plant so that this water will not be wasted but will be utilized in the system.

  3. SHWD encourages all customers to purchase "water sense" labeled showerheads, water faucets, and toilets when undertaking renovations in the home. These products can be found at all home improvement stores and have labels which indicate their water usage. More information can be found here:

  4. SHWD encourages all customers to conserve water when landscaping. Lawn watering is discouraged. If you must water your lawn, try to ensure that you are not watering your driveway or other paved areas.  Selecting drought resistant plants for landscaping is highly encouraged.  Landscaping tips can be found here: Some common drought resistant plants which can be grown here in the Pacific Northwest are featured in the section below. 

  5. If a drought is declared for Island County, additional water conservation measures will be undertaken. 

Conservation Contest

In response to the August 2023 water emergency, we had a contest and collected helpful ideas about how to conserve water and how to be prepared for possible future water emergencies.  Pat Baird was our winner.

Conservation Contest Winning Submission

Drought Tolerant Plants



Pacific Wax Myrtle (Morella calilfornica)

Easy and adaptable and also a PNW native.  It thrives in almost all light conditions from full sun to full shade.  It’s evergreen and takes pruning well but can also grow into a 10’ to 15’ small tree if desired. Birds love the small black  fruit which lasts until midwinter.  Likes well draining soil but can also tolerate sandy and clay soils.  Deer resistant too!


Darwin’s Barberry (Berberis darwinii)

Reddish orange flowers in early March/April.  Deer resistant and attracts bees, birds, and butterflies.  Evergreen and needs very little pruning.


Rockrose (Cistus x Hybridus)

Thrives with neglect.  Less water is best as it’s more susceptible to flopping and winter damage with too much water.  Full sun and well draining soil will make this evergreen shrub happy.  Large flowers in the spring attract bees and butterflies.


Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)

Deer and drought resistant, slow growing, edible berries. Bloom Period: April-May. Fruit ripens August to September but often remain on the plant through December.



Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Deer and drought resistant.  Bluish grey foliage and flower spikes of grey-purple in August/September.  Attracts bees. 


Bears Breeches (Acanthus spinosus)

Deer resistant and attracts bees. Full sun to partial shade. Spring to summer blooms in light purple, pink and white.


Blackbird Penstemon (Autumn Beard-tongue)

Blackbird Penstemon (Autumn Beard-tongue)-Sun, well drained soil, summer and fall purple flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  Long blooming in summer/fall. 


Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia Ciliata)

Full sun, deciduous, 3 feet tall, blue flowers in spring, attracts bees.


Yarrow (Moonshine Achillia)

Full sun, clay and sandy soils as long as it’s well drained. Long blooming, deer and rabbit resistant.  Attracts pollinators.



Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

PNW native closely related to Japanese maples. Great fall color (orange) growing to 15’ to 20’. Can grow in nearly all soil conditions.


Spanish Fir (Abies Pinsapo)

Disease resistant and evergreen, likes full sun and once established is heat tolerant.  Adds an architectural element to the garden with the radically arranged needles covering the entire branch.  Small red cones at the tip of the branches in the spring. 


Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Fantastic fall color, deciduous and hardy.  The female ginkgo can produce fruit with awful odors so buy a male.  It needs little pruning and has nice branch structure.  Evolved over 200 million years ago and is considered a living fossil!

For more information:

Plant pictures courtesy Great Plant Picks and Jaci Mach


According to the National Groundwater Association,
there are ten ways to help to protect and conserve groundwater:

  1. Go native: Use native plants in your landscape. They look great, and don’t need much water or fertilizer. Also choose grass varieties for your lawn that are adapted for your region’s climate, reducing the need for extensive watering or chemical applications.

  2. Reduce chemical use: Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly — don't dump them on the ground!

  3. Manage waste: Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites — contact your local health department to find one near you.

  4. Don’t let it run: Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or while shaving, and don’t let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead.

  5. Fix the drip: Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away, or install water conserving models.

  6. Wash smarter: Limit yourself to just a five-minute shower, and challenge your family members to do the same! Also, make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washers.

  7. Water wisely: Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it. Make sure you, your family, and your neighbors obey any watering restrictions during dry periods.

  8. Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Reduce the amount of “stuff” you use and reuse what you can. Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum and other materials.

  9. Natural alternatives: Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.

  10. Learn and do more!: Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others.

Island County Department of Natural Resources is another good source of information on water conservation.

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