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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sandra Romero, Thurston County Commission Chair, 360-786-5440

Thurston County Watershed Improvement Plan Funded by EPA.

OLYMPIA - Water quality is to be protected and possibly improved in two watersheds in Thurston County with funding received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). The $885,000 grant was announced today in special ceremonies with the EPA and Puget Sound Partnership. In total, $30,000,000 dollars in grants was announced for various projects impacting Puget Sound.

In Thurston County, the grant will be used to do watershed based Land-Use Planning that includes a mixture of landowner incentives and policies in the Deschutes and Kennedy-Goldsborough Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA). The Deschutes watershed (WRIA 13) is 220 square miles in central Thurston County and is home to more than 150,000 residents. The Kennedy-Goldsborough watershed (WRIA 14) is 47 square miles in northwestern Thurston County and some 6,000 people live in the area.

This is the second of two grants Thurston County has received from EPA. The first grant, awarded 2008, allowed the county to perform scientific research and studies that will be used as the best available science to develop policies, programs and projects for Thurston County. For the second grant, Thurston County will coordinate with the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Rainier through the Thurston Regional Planning Council to implement watershed-based land-use planning. Under the project, the scientific community and policy makers will work together to accommodate projected growth, while protecting and enhancing aquatic ecosystems at the subwatershed, watershed, and South Puget Sound Basin scales. The overall idea is the protection and/or restoration of ecological processes in the listed watersheds to protect and improve water quality, which in turn, will be beneficial for Puget Sound marine waters.

Thurston County Commission Chair Sandra Romero says the county is excited to obtain the grant award for this important work. "We are fortunate to live in an area that is so beautiful, but that beauty is sometimes only skin deep. When you go below the surface of Puget Sound you find some real challenges from pollutants of all kinds from organic materials to low oxygen levels and industrial waste. Working with our area partners, we can use this valuable grant to attack this problem from the watershed level which is where we can do a lot of good."

The projects funded by the EPA grants include a variety of programs aimed at-
  • Invasive species removal from critical watersheds
  • Easing salmon migration and increasing population
  • Protecting watersheds from the impacts of urban growth
  • Improving shellfish bed conditions
  • Purchasing and protecting critical habitat and watershed lands
  • Developing data and tools to improve protection and restoration efforts
  • Improving and protecting shorelines
  • Educating communities and homeowners about reducing impacts to Puget Sound



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3