Cedar River Watershed newsletter, Issue 24
Discover Learn Connect
Connecting people to the source of Seattle's drinking water, inspiring confidence, stewardship and sustainability.
Questions? Comments? Contact Cedar River Watershed Education Center
or (206) 733-9421

Reservoirs & Wetlands Refill

watershed wetland

Photo Caption: Reservoirs and Wetlands Refill Quickly After Record Warm, Dry, Snow-Free 2015

2015 was a weather year to remember. The cascading effect of exceptionally high temperatures, nonexistent snowpack, and low summer river flows led to the lowest watershed reservoir levels in 25 years. Fortunately, early spring rain, the slow release of water from wetlands, customer conservation and mechanical pumping prevented the rivers and water supply from running dry. Despite the lack of snow in early 2015, winter and early spring delivered near normal rainfall to mountain watersheds. Seeing virtually no mountain snowpack in February, two months ahead of schedule, water managers began early rainwater reservoir refill.

Typically, most winter and spring rains in the Cedar and Tolt rivers are released downstream to make room for cold, clear spring snowmelt. The strategic early 2015 reservoir refill efforts, coupled with year-round customer conservation combined to keep Seattle’s reservoir levels at near normal spring levels. In fact, since 1990 water consumption has decreased about 30 percent while population has increased by 15 percent, and we are using an amazing 46 percent less per person. Also this year, the City relied on underground water flow from wetlands like Eagle Ridge Fen and Rock Creek Wetland and smaller lakes like Rex Pond, Walsh Lake, and even Rattlesnake Lake to provide a slow release of cool clean water into the Cedar River all summer long.

After a long, hot, dry summer and nearly empty reservoirs, November delivered three large storms refilling reservoirs and recharging wetlands with 25 inches of rain. These 2015 rain events put us into a good position entering 2016. Learn more about Seattle’s water supply and current reservoir storage conditions. Please also join us for a wetland hiking tour to learn about the vital role wetlands play in supplying water and buffering dry years in the Cedar River Watershed.

Did You Know?

watershed rain drums

Cedar River water plays music.

A rain drum water drop begins its journey high up in the municipal Cedar River Watershed. It flows through Chester Morse Lake to the Masonry Dam where it drops 600 feet through a penstock to generate hydroelectric power at the Cedar Falls power plant. Most of the water then reenters the Cedar River, but some splits off and travels about a mile to the Education Center where it helps create a moist melody.

Breaking News

Registration is Open

You can now register for programs. Space fills quickly, early registration is encouraged.

Browse & register for programs >

NW Timber Community Songs & Stories

A free Father’s Day musical performance Sunday June 19, 2:30 – 4:00.

View Family Friendly programs for more information.

Early Bird Discount!

Get 20% off when you register for any Natural History program before May 1. Limit four people per program, per registration.

Visit Us

Education Center

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045

April thru October
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

November thru March
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045
All Year
6:00 a.m. – Dusk


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Cedar River Watershed  email   |  (206) 733-9421  |  (425) 831-6780