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Acting to protect Thurston County’s Water Resources

Thank you to all of our allies who rallied in support of water protectors fighting DAPL in North Dakota. We are now in need of that same spirit of activism in our very own Thurston County, which is facing several issues related to water quality and use. We need YOU to act locally in defense of our precious water resources right here at home!  Several members of The League of Women Voters are looking for  community members to advocate for clean water issues. We need people to research these issues and lobby our Thurston County Board of Commissioners. We have identified several areas of concern now facing the Board related to water.

On-site septic system monitoring.  The Commissioners just rescinded a $10/year fee that would have been used to monitor septic systems and educate the public.  Diminished water quality in Hammersley Inlet and Summit Lake are two recent examples of problems that may have been avoided by active monitoring.

The Hirst Decision by the WA Supreme Court—requires counties to ensure new wells will not adversely affect those with senior water rights and in-stream flows. Thurston County is still issuing well-drilling permits without any guarantee of water flow in the future.

Lakeside Industries in the Nisqually Valley is trying to get a permit to process recycled asphalt. When it’s processed and ground up it can leach toxic chemicals into the groundwater. The asphalt site is close to the Nisqually River where flooding is possible and the groundwater table is shallow. This could not only endanger salmon runs but also nearby aquifers that supply drinking water to residents of Olympia and Lacy.

Mineral lands inventory—the County is in the process of creating an inventory of mineral lands (i.e. possible gravel mine sites) whose development would potentially affect water quality in adjacent areas.

The County is considering substantial increases in development, which will mean paving over land and creating additional impervious surfaces. The untreated storm water runoff can negatively impact our lakes, streams and inlets.

There are many other related issues, and there’s sure to be more coming in the near future, including those related to aspects of the Growth Management Plan.

We would like to collaborate with all interested community members so that we can continue to pressure the County Commissioners to act responsibly and as good stewards of our water resources.  This collaboration could involve speaking up during the public comment time at the Tuesday 2 PM Board meetings and/or phoning and emailing the Commissioners. We need to help them recognize the seriousness of the present and future impacts of their decisions. We would also appreciate those interested in researching these important issues.

We welcome all concerned residents and encourage you to get involved in this grassroots effort to speak up to protect our water. Please feel free to circulate this message.  You can contact us at

Grace Lenger’s granddaughter is a community-minded resident of Thurston County.


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