Advisory Committee Recommendations
The Citizen's Advisory Committee's recommendations to keep water in the Scatter Creek aquifer safe to
drink now and in the future were approved and adopted by
Resolution H-3-2014 of the Thurston County Board of Health on December 16, 2014. The Citizen's Committee met for two years to learn about the aquifer. They concluded that:
- The Scatter Creek Aquifer is vulnerable to contamination from septic systems and land use activities.
- Nitrogen levels in the aquifer have decreased over time and seem to be trending lower.
- Current aquifer conditions and worse-case model results do not warrant taking regulatory action at this time. The groundwater model predicts that
average nitrate concentrations in even the most vulnerable part of the study area will be less than half the maximum contaminant level of 10 mg/l.
- The committee wants to be cautious and monitor water quality so, if needed, we can take action before it is too late. Ideally monitoring should
evaluate trends, the accuracy of the computer model, water quality in deeper areas of the aquifer, the extent and duration of water quality spikes,
chemicals of emerging concern, and pathogens such as viruses.
- In general, zoning, land use and health regulations have protected the aquifer from nitrate and many other contaminants. However, health and land use
regulations can be strengthened to help assure the optimal placement of new septic systems and wells to minimize the potential for contaminating drinking water supplies.
- The committee believes that with proper information, education, and incentives, area residents will be good stewards and take action to protect the aquifer.
Based on these conclusions, the Scatter Creek Aquifer Citizen's Committee
discussed and unanimously decided on their
The goal of the project was to make sure water in the Scatter Creek Aquifer is
safe to drink now and in the future.
The three-year project included groundwater
monitoring, scientific modeling, and community input. A
citizen advisory committee evaluated scientific data and modeling
potential impacts on the aquifer and made recommendations to the Thurston County Board
of Health and Board of County Commissioners. Funding for
this project was provided by the Washington State
Department of Ecology.
Residents living in the Scatter Creek Aquifer Area
(click on the map for a larger view of the area) rely on
groundwater for their drinking water. Water in this aquifer is highly vulnerable to
contamination because the sandy, gravelly soils do not
effectively filter out contamination. Unlike other areas,
there is not another deeper aquifer below the Scatter
Creek Aquifer; it is a sole-source aquifer.
Test results from private and community wells show
nitrates and coliform bacteria are getting into the water.
Currently, most wells tested in the area meet drinking water standards.
At levels above drinking water standards, these contaminants can cause illness.
We are concerned because, at times, nitrate levels in this area have been some
of the highest in Thurston County, with some wells exceeding drinking water standards.
For Past Studies and Reports
- Groundwater Monitoring and Sampling
- Groundwater Modeling
- Community Involvement
Citizen Advisory Committee
Committee members were appointed to the committee by the Board of Health
and must live, own property, or work in the Scatter Creek Aquifer Area. The
committee typically met on the first Wednesday of the month at the Rochester School
District Board Room. They learned about the area and risks posed to the drinking water
by septic systems, helped determine if levels of contamination are likely to cause public
health concern, and developed recommendations for an action plan to ensure water in the
Scatter Creek Aquifer is safe to drink now and in the future.
Throughout the two year process, you shared your
thoughts on the project. Your feedback was important
to us because you, as residents
or property owners in the Scatter Creek Aquifer
Area, are the people who drink the water and are
affected by the issues. Your thoughts and concerns
helped the Citizen's Advisory Committee shape their
recommendations and we thank you.
Here's what we heard from you:
If you have additional questions or comments about the
project, please send us an e-mail
or call 360-867-2582.