OLYMPIA – A settlement agreement will allow Thurston County to move forward with major purchases of water rights for the Grand Mound area. The settlement was worked out with the State Department of Ecology over parameters set by the Thurston County Water Conservancy Board for purchase of water rights from the Port of Centralia and Hamilton Farms. The cost for the Port purchase is $485,488 and the tally for the Hamilton Farms rights is $535,362. The funds come from the county's Real Estate Excise Taxes which can only be used for public works projects.
Thurston County Advance Planning Manager Scott Clark says the agreement will allow for controlled growth in Grand Mound and a "green" approach to the water usage. "We appreciate all of the work done by the State Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife and the Conservancy Board in evaluating this proposal and the cooperation of the Port of Centralia and Hamilton Farms in putting the deal together. This provides for growth of the Grand Mound area that is predicted over the next 20 years as well as some protections for Prairie Creek and the Chehalis River ."
The water rights plan calls for the county to provide monitoring and mitigation for potential impacts in the affected area. Scott says overall, the plan will be beneficial to the environment.
"Among other things, this transfer of water rights means less draw down on water supplies during the low flow period of the summer and an actual increase in water to Prairie Creek during that same low flow period. The agreement also recognizes habitat protection policies of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife."
Sixty to eighty percent of the groundwater withdrawals will be returned through effluent from the Grand Mound Waste Water Plant. Eventually, the county will develop a reclaimed water facility for the area.