OLYMPIA - Thurston's Board of County Commissioners approved a project to drill eight groundwater monitoring wells in the Scatter Creek area of south Thurston County, at a cost of $126,000. Drilling is set to begin March 1st.
The wells were recommended by a citizen's advisory group in 2014 as part of a project to make sure water in the Scatter Creek aquifer is available, and safe to drink. The aquifer is the source of drinking water for more than 18,000 residents who live in the valley from Rochester through Grand Mound and Tenino, an important growth corridor for Thurston County.
In 2014, the Scatter Creek Citizen Advisory Committee provided a report to the County about the aquifer. They noted that water quality tests met drinking water standards, but the aquifer itself was highly vulnerable to contamination because gravelly soils surrounding it do not effectively filter contamination. They also reported that unlike other aquifers, there is not a deeper aquifer below it. They concluded that the County should install wells in the area to test water quality and to gather data about possible sources of contamination.
Once the new wells are installed, the County can closely monitor water quality in the aquifer and identify the source of any contaminants that enter it. The wells will also allow the County to check the difference in the quality of water in the deepest parts of the aquifer.
According to Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake, "This new information will enable the County to better understand how to effectively protect the aquifer for residents now and in the future."
The wells will also help the County evaluate and predict future water availability, which has been limited in the valley since the 1950s.
If you live or work in the Rochester, Grand Mound or Tenino areas, you may see the big drilling machine drilling the new wells soon.
In December 2014, the Board of County Commissioners, in their dual roles as the County Board of Health adopted the citizen recommendation as H-3-2014. In January 2017, the current Board of County Commissioners gave a thumbs up for drilling to begin. Learn more about these new monitoring sites at www.tcStormwaterUtility.org. Learn more about the adopted Resolution H-3-2014 at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehsc/.