September 9, 2015 | Investigate West with Seattle Weekly | Read more here.

One of the country’s fastest-growing cities suddenly has a long-term water problem.

The weather was uncharacteristically drizzly for late summer when Seattle Public Utilities tour guide Ralph Naess, tooling along a backroad in the city-protected Cedar River watershed, suddenly looked skyward with alarm at a sudden sunbreak.

“Hey — the sun is coming out. Bad news!” Naess exclaimed. Turning to visitors, he explained: “We would much prefer a dousing rain for a month.”

It’s not unusual for the folks at SPU who are responsible for making sure Seattleites have drinking water to get nervous at this time of year. Even in a typical year, officials carefully watch the weather and the calendar as the water level of the Chester Morse Reservoir recedes. It’s their annual waiting game: When will the fall rains return?

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