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Tumwater S.W. UGA Resizing and Land Use Analysis

Status:  This project was completed in September 7, 2010 with the adoption of   Resolution No. 14401 amending the Thurston County Comprehensive Plan, and Ordinance No. 14402 amending the Thurston County development code. A notice was published in the Nisqually Valley News on September 24th. The notice of adoption is available by clicking here.


The southwest portion of the City of Tumwater Urban Growth Area (UGA) has a number of unique environmental challenges that have been identified and studied. These challenges include high groundwater, endangered and threatened species, and wetlands. For more information, please click on the documents link above.

Salmon Creek Drainage BasinSalmon Creek Drainage Basin Flooding 1999

The Salmon Creek Comprehensive Drainage Basin Plan, adopted by Thurston County and the City of Tumwater in 2004, was an intensive look at the high groundwater issues in the basin. The Salmon Creek Basin is located just south of the Olympia Regional Airport and the Tumwater city limits, and encompasses approximately 12 square miles.

Above average rainfall caused localized flooding in the rainy seasons of 1996 to 97 and 1998 to 99. Property owners experienced a range of conditions – from high groundwater around and under homes, to failed septic systems, contaminated drinking water, and restricted access to property.

The plan included recommendations for future actions by both the City of Tumwater and Thurston County to reduce and prevent flooding impacts. Many of the recommendations in the Salmon Creek Drainage Basin Plan have already been enacted, including the study described below.

For more information on the Salmon Creek Basin, please see Thurston County’s Salmon Creek Comprehensive Drainage Basin Plan web page.

Study Area and Scope

The Salmon Creek Drainage Basin Plan called for a study of environmental constraints faced by properties in the southwest portion of the City of Tuwmater Urban Growth Area that have been impacted by high groundwater, wetlands and other factors, and to reassess the land use and zoning of those properties.  For documents and maps, click here.

 This assessment led to changes land use and zoning designations, and the removal of certain properties from the City of Tumwater Urban Growth Area boundary. These changes were accomplished through the passage of Resolution 14401 and Ordinance 14402.  To see a map of the zoning and land use changes contained in Ordinance 14402, click here.

Subdivision Moratorium

During the UGA study, Thurston County found significant environmental constraints to development in several locations. In the City of Tumwater UGA, this included the Littlerock Road study area and the 88th Avenue study area. Both study areas were originally included in a subdivision moratorium; however, they were removed from the moratorium when the Thurston County Board of Commissioners approved Ordinance 14402.  

For more information on the Thurston County Subdivision Moratorium, please contact Jeremy Davis (see contact information below).


  • On March 16, 2010, the Tumwater City Council made its recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners.  Click here for the City Council's recommendation.
  • On March 17, 2010, the Thurston County Planning Commission made a recommendation consistent with the City’s recommendation.
  • On May 7, 2010, the Urban Growth Management Subcommittee of the Thurston Regional Planning Council recommended that the proposed changes complied with the County-Wide Planning Policies for reducing an Urban Growth Area.
  • On May 27, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners public hearing on proposed land-use and text changes.
  • On September 7, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners approved Resolution 14401 and Ordinance 14402. The notice of adoption is available by clicking here.

Contact Us

Interested Parties: If you would like to be added to our Web Mail list, please click here.

Thurston County staff contact: Jeremy Davis, Senior Planner
Phone: (360) 867-2103
E-mail: davisj@co.thurston.wa.us.

Tumwater staff contact: David Ginther, Senior Planner
Tumwater Planning and Facilities Department
Phone: (360) 754-4210
E-mail: dginther@ci.tumwater.wa.us

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