Wash. official says water a serious concern

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SEATTLE (AP) -- The state's top water manager is retiring, and he says competing demands for limited water supply have never been greater with serious consequences for the state.

Ecology's Ken Slattery says water shortages are acute in the Yakima region. He says serious declines in groundwater levels also threaten the quality of life in communities in the West Plains area west of Spokane, in the Odessa area east of Moses Lake and around Pullman.

Most water in river basins has already been allocated for municipal, agricultural or industrial use decades ago. Meanwhile, climate change, population growth and the need to protect fish and wildlife habitat are putting pressure on water supplies statewide.

Slattery says people need to be educated about water and know that every time they turn on the tap they may be reducing the flow of rivers.