Thursday, August 31, 2017

Healthy Water for a Healthy Community

In 2007, water quality concerns in Henderson Inlet triggered the formation of the Henderson Shellfish Protection District Septic Maintenance Program. Fecal coliform bacteria was found in the water and shellfish grown in Henderson Inlet at levels that could make people sick. The shellfish protection district created programs to educate the public, inventory local septic systems and help county staff make sure that all septic systems in the area are taken care of and that failing systems are fixed. The program is funded by a charge to people who live in the Henderson Shellfish Protection Area. This program is one of several water quality improvement projects undertaken by community partners.

Has this program worked?
Yes! Hundreds of acres of shellfish growing area have been reopened because of water quality improvements. Over 86% of the septic systems in Henderson are current with inspections and maintenance. This is one of the highest success rates in the Puget Sound area.

The work continues…
The success of the past 10 years needs to be sustained as our population continues to grow and change. Our region is known for its access to beautiful waterways, mountains, and streams. Henderson Shellfish Protection Area is an example of teamwork in the community working to keep our citizens, our precious resources and our economy healthy.

Proposed changes to the program
  • The program currently requires that high risk septic systems be dye traced every six years. The new proposal changes this to every nine years. A review of the data shows that the county could reduce the frequency of dye traces and still protect public health.
  • The proposal adds a $10 charge on properties that have more than one septic system. This charge helps pay for the time needed to review records and oversee the monitoring and maintenance of these additional systems.
  • Increase charges $2/year for low and $6/year for high risk systems. This extra money will help reduce dependency on grants so that grants can be used in other high priority areas in the county.
  • Strengthen water quality monitoring through a Pollution and Identification Correction or PIC program. Adding PIC allows the county to respond to complaints and further investigate documented water quality problems in streams or shellfish monitoring stations.

On September 12 at 5:30 p.m. the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to review and receive testimony on the ordinance to re-enact rates and charges for this program. Come and give us your feedback, share your concerns and have your questions answered! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sign up for the new Thurston Home & Garden e-newsletter!


Receive tips about caring for your home, garden, and lawn in your inbox every two months! Thurston Home & Garden offers advice on improving indoor air quality, handling housing issues like mold, practical and useful solutions for a thriving lawn, and all sorts of tips and tricks for gardening without using toxic weed and bug killers. You can even send in your questions to be included in the Q&A section.

Each newsletter will include a list of upcoming local events related to home and garden topics!

Sign me up! Please include your first and last name and your email address.

Monday, June 19, 2017

AmeriCorps Position Open - Healthy Homes Project Lead

Help people make their home into a healthier space!


We are seeking a committed, passionate person to help lead our Healthy Homes Program! Thurston County Healthy Homes Program helps people reduce their exposure to toxics, asthma triggers, mold, and other housing-related health risks. Local residents invite trained volunteers into their homes to provide these optional Healthy Homes Visits.

The AmeriCorps member will serve in the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department. Eligible applicants must be between the ages of 18-25. Position begins September 1 and comes with a living stipend of $1,195 a month, a bus pass, student loan forbearance or deferment, eligibility for basic health insurance, and an AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,775 upon successful completion of the program.  To learn more about AmeriCorps visit the Washington Service Corps website.

The Healthy Homes Project Lead will:
- Organize and complete the Healthy Homes volunteer training.
- Conduct Healthy Homes Visits for local residents and childcare facilities.
- Provide follow-up contacts, and other program services.
- Manage program volunteers including recruitment, scheduling and tracking hours.
- Create partnerships with local healthcare providers.
- Develop volunteer support and recognition events.
- Develop creative and innovative program outreach activities to engage the community.
- Collect, track, and analyze program data to evaluate program effectiveness and impact.
- Prepare quarterly reports.
- Occasionally assist department education staff with other outreach and evaluation activities.

Traits of the ideal candidate:
- Will be enthusiastic and embrace challenges, be professional and friendly, demonstrate commitment to workplace collaboration, and have the ability to establish and maintain professional demeanor in stressful situations. 
- Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing with tact, diplomacy and clarity to multiple audiences.
- Ability to maintain confidentiality, and adherence to legal and ethical requirements.
- Ability to organize, prioritize and coordinate work, research and prepare reports.
- Must be able to comply with a smoke-free and drug-free work environment, and pass child safety screening.
- Two years of college level course work. Solid computer skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office.
- Must possess a current and valid Washington driver's license within two months.
- Must be between the ages 18-25.


Apply through the AmeriCorps website. This opportunity closes on July 17 at 8:00 am Pacific Time, and is contingent on funding. For more information please contact Elisa Sparkman, Healthy Homes Program Coordinator at (360) 867-2579, sparkme@co.thurston.wa.us.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New website - Updated information about the Summit Lake toxic algae advisory

This advisory is no longer in effect.

There is a new website with updated information about the toxic algae advisory at Summit Lake. The website address is http://bit.ly/SummitLakeAlgae.


What you will find on the website:
  • Guidance for avoiding risks posed by algae toxin in Summit Lake.
  • Water truck information for residents on Summit Lake.
  • Algae toxin lab test information.
  • Maps of testing sample locations.
  • Information about labs accredited for algae toxin testing.
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Public Health contact information.
  • Links to information about blue-green algae. 



The website and the public information line (360) 709-3080 have the most updated information about the Summit Lake water emergency.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Summit Lake Toxic Algae Bloom Update – Thursday May 11

This advisory is no longer in effect.

Water truck available daily between 4-7 p.m.
The water truck (Water Buffalo, Inc.) will park at the Fire Station at 2815 Summit Lake Shore Rd NW between 4-7 p.m. Residents can bring their own containers to collect water for drinking and cooking during those times. This water truck will be available daily between 4-7 p.m. until further notice.

Community meeting on Saturday. *** Updated: Location Change***
Come to the community meeting on Saturday May 13 from 2-4 p.m. at the new location - the Boy Scout Camp 11740 Summit Lake Road NW. Staff from Thurston County Public Health will be there to answer questions.

Public Information Line: (360) 709-3080
The Public Information Line is being updated regularly.

Thurston County Public Health advises no contact with the water.
Summit Lake is under advisory for a toxic algae bloom. The algae bloom is producing high levels of the toxin Anatoxin-a, which is toxic to the nervous system. The Thurston County Board of Health has declared this as a community emergency.
  •  Do not drink the water, do not shower or bathe in the water, do not use the water for cooking, washing dishes, laundry or to water pets or animals. 
  • Avoid all contact with the lake water.
  •  Keep pets and children out of the water.
  •  Don’t fish or swim in the water.

Public Health took 11 additional samples from around the lake on Tuesday May 9 and should have tests results back by Friday May 12. We will continue to update residents as we know more. 


If you have additional questions or concerns, contact Thurston County Environmental Health at (360) 867-2626.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Summit Lake residents are advised not to use their tap water.


This advisory is no longer in effect.

Summit Lake is under advisory for a toxic algae bloom. Residents living on Summit Lake who get their tap water from the lake should not use their tap water for drinking, cooking, or bathing. Disinfection, boiling, and treatment systems don’t remove or deactivate the algae toxin.

Current levels are at 354 micrograms per liter. One microgram per liter is considered a reason for health concern. The bloom is producing high levels of the toxin Anatoxin-a, which is toxic to the nervous system.

Public Health also advises the following other precautions:
  - Residents should find a temporary alternative source of safe drinking    water.
  - Don't shower in water taken from the lake until laboratory tests show    the water is safe.
  - Avoid contact with lake water.
  - Keep pets and children out of the water.
  - Don't fish or swim in the water.

Public Health will continue to monitor the situation and will take more lake samples in the next week. We will continue to update residents. Please share this information to help get the word out. You can find more information about toxic algae here.

Residents and lake users with questions can contact Jane Mountjoy-Venning at 360-867-2643 or venninj@co.thurston.wa.us