Northwest News

Expect dry fountains, brown lawns on Capitol Campus this summer due to drought

Drought measures on the state Capitol Campus include keeping fountains and lawns dry.

“It’s important for us now that we’re in a drought emergency situation to do everything we can to reduce and conserve water,” said Curt Hart, spokesman for the state Department of Enterprise Services that maintains the campus.

With mountain snowpack at 16 percent of normal levels and more than $1 billion in crop losses expected, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought Friday. He noted many urban and suburban water systems have enough water and don’t expect shortages.

Enterprise Services was considering keeping fountains off anyway as a money-saving move, and hadn’t yet turned them on for the year, said Jim Erskine, another spokesman for the agency.

The Tivoli Fountain, along Capitol Way northeast of the Legislative Building, won’t be sending up the plumes of water that usually mark the spring and summer months.

The fountain, which holds about 25,000 gallons of water, has been idle in past times of drought and also sat unused during Great Recession-era budget cuts.

It also needs repairs, Erskine said.

Two other fountains will also go unused: a small one behind the Governor’s Mansion and the Du Pen Fountain, a bronze sculpture next to the Joel M. Pritchard Building.

The department said it would reduce watering of campus lawns, in some cases eliminating irrigation altogether. Grass will probably turn brown but won’t die, Hart said.

The agency needs to keep watering new plants along Sid Snyder Avenue, he said. Those were added during a recent construction project to help filter and capture stormwater runoff.

Measures already taken to make the Capitol Campus more hardy should help, Hart said. The department has replaced annual flowers with perennials that need less water and replaced trees with native or drought-tolerant varieties.