City water use about 10 percent less this year, thanks to new water meters, golf course closure

Ballinger Park, the home of the former Ballinger Lake Golf Course.
Ballinger Park, the home of the former Ballinger Lake Golf Course.

Water usage in Mountlake Terrace is running about 10 percent less in 2013 than in previous years, city officials report, and they account for the reduction in use to two factors: an effort to replace water meters and the closure of the Ballinger Lake Golf Course.

During the first three quarters of 2013, Mountlake Terrace residents and businesses used about 65 percent of the water that city officials expect to be used during the year; officials usually see that figure at 75 percent after the first nine months of a calendar year.

Interim City Manager Scott Hugill shared the surprising figure during a report to the Mountlake Terrace City Council earlier this week. “2013 (is) somewhat unique,” he said. “It was a dry summer, but we saw less water purchased than a typical third quarter.”

Hugill said the city’s replacement of water meters over the past two years has made the system more efficient. “”When you replace an old meter it is far more effective and efficient, plus less water leaks through a new meter than an old meter,” he explained. “So we’ve been capturing water that in the past leaked through undetected. You’ve got a good seal on that meter; it’s not leaking.”

Hugill also pointed out that the 42 acres that had previously been the Ballinger Lake Golf Course has now become a passive park, drastically changing the amount of water used there. Before the golf course closed in November 2012, the greens and sections of the fairways were watered almost daily; since its closure there has been no water used on the grounds, he said.

With less water being used in the city, revenue to the city’s Water Utility Fund is lower than expected so far this year. But that doesn’t concern city officials as less water usage means the City of Mountlake Terrace doesn’t have to buy as much water from the Alderwood Water District. “It’s a zero-sum gain,” Hugill said.

“We’re right on par with where we need to be through the third quarter,” he added.

The figures about water use were part of the city’s Third Quarter 2013 Financial Report; you can view a summary presentation of the entire report here.

— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski


  1. Why doesn’t the city collect rainwater for landscape and toilet flushing……it seems backward not to use a plentiful resource that can be easily collected and used for these uses

  2. ShannonKlemm This is a great idea in theory and some new buildings have rain collection systems for this use but to implement city wide it would require a completely seperate water system not to mention any building that wanted to use it would have to be replumbed to accomodate the irrigation/flushing system.

  3. @Jim Misiano There are a number of reasons your water bill may be increasing. The most obvious would be if the amount of water your household used has increased. While the City overall has decreased use by 10%, that may not be true for each property. The base bi-monthly charge went up by about 3.5% between 2012 and 2013, which amounts to only about 29 cents for residential use. The other thing that changed between 2012 and 2013 was that the City switched to a stepped system for charging for water use to encourage conservation. If you use less than 2,000 cubic feet of water in a billing period (2 months) than the rate for 2013 is $2.60/CF. If you use more than the $/CF increases. For reference I just checked and the most I used in 2013 was 1,500 CF, but I don’t water my lawn so others likely have more.


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