Friday, April 24, 2015

Dive into Your Neighborhood

Whether you live in town, a cul-de-sac in a suburban neighborhood, or in a rural area outside of town - you are part of a watershed. The water that runs off of your driveway, rooftop, and yard makes its way into the nearest like, river or storm drain and, for most of us, eventually into Puget Sound. This is one way that our daily activities can help or harm the health of Puget Sound.

The Clear Choices for Clean Water program is a partnership between Thurston County Public Health & Social Services and Thurston Conservation District that helps people make choices to improve water quality.  Choices for which all of us are responsible, such as proper pet waste disposal, slow release fertilizers, and regular septic system inspections, can help us clean up and restore Puget Sound.

What: “Dive into Your Neighborhood” Watershed Tour

When: May 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Where: Meets at Thurston County Public Health Department 412 Lilly Rd. NE Olympia, WA. The tour travels throughout Henderson and Nisqually Watershed.

Who: Residents of the Henderson and Nisqually Watersheds (There is a waitlist for non-residents who can join the tour if there is space.)

Cost: No cost! Register here or call Melissa Sanchez: (360) 754-3588 x105

Registration deadline is May 10, 2015.

The details...

Join us aboard a luxury tour bus for a fun and interactive experience in the Henderson and Nisqually Watersheds. The tour includes free local food, shellfish tasting, gardening & lawn care tips and more! Join your neighbors and learn about exciting things happening in YOUR neighborhood. 

The tour begins with refreshments and check-in at Thurston County Public Health Department, where we will uncover some of the mysteries of septic tanks. We’ll stop at several locations in Henderson and Nisqually watersheds to understand where our water comes from, where it goes and how our choices affect it. Join the tour for local beverages, shellfish tasting, music and more!  Once we’re back at the Health Department, you can sign up for Clear Choices and take home free native plants, fertilizers, compost and other items to help protect water quality for all of us.

Priority signups are for people who live in the Henderson or Nisqually Shellfish Protection Districts. Not sure if this means you? View the map below. People who sign up from outside of the two watersheds are place on a wait list. We'll let you know a few days before the tour if there is room for you and your guests. Spaces will fill up fast for this free family-friendly event. Register today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Farmers Market season, here we come!

In Thurston County, we are lucky to have multiple local Farmers Markets at our finger tips. Strolling through the aisles of booths full of colorful produce, beautiful crafts, and delightful locally made products can feel so magical. And now that it is spring, we get to enjoy the markets for the entire growing season ahead!

Many of our staff members here at Thurston County Public Health and Social Services are so excited about this, so we thought we’d share some safety tips for visiting Farmers Markets.
  • Wash hands often. There are many opportunities for touching unique items for sale as well as sampling goodies and eating lunch. Be sure to take a quick break from the market to wash your hands throughout your visit, especially before you eat.
  • Wash produce. Produce, whether it is organic or not, should be washed before you eat it.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for tripping hazards.
  • Keep your kids close. When a market is crowded, it’s easy to lose sight of a little person. Talk to your kids about what to do if they get lost.
  • Some vendors are required to have permits and others are not. For more information about permits see our Farmers Market Permitting and Reference Guide.
  • Have fun supporting local vendors, enjoying local foods, and getting fresh air!

To help you get out and enjoy our local farmers markets, here is a list:

The Olympia Farmers Market at 700 N. Capitol Way Olympia, WA – Now open Thursday-Sunday

West Olympia Farmers’ Market at 1919 Harrison Ave. NW Olympia, WA – Open Tuesday evenings starting in mid-May

Yelm Farmers Market at Nisqually Springs Farm 17835 Hwy 507 Yelm, WA – Open Sundays starting May 31

Tenino Farmers Market at 301 Old Hwy 99 Tenino, WA – Opens Saturdays starting June 6

Tumwater Farmers Market at Capitol Boulevard and Israel Road Tumwater, WA – Open Wednesdays (11am to 2pm) starting in May

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Healthy Homes Workshop on Saturday April 11

We spend a lot of time in our homes and there are many actions we can take to make them healthier. Join us to learn simple ways to create a healthier living space including ways to reduce exposures to toxins, asthma triggers, mold, lead, and other housing-related health risks. This workshop is presented by Thurston County’s Healthy Homes Program, which offers free, voluntary, and confidential home visits to help Thurston County residents create healthier living spaces.

What: Healthy Homes Workshop
When: Saturday April 11, 2015 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Where: LOTT WET Science Center, 500 Adams Street NE, Olympia, WA 98501
Who: Adults and children ages 12 and up
Why: To learn ways to improve your home environment

We hope to see you there!

Friday, April 3, 2015

All drains lead somewhere...

When something goes down a drain, it may seem like it disappears, but it doesn’t. All drains lead somewhere.  There is no such thing as going “away.” Yes, you may flush your waste, you may watch as the unwanted material swirls down the drain but really, all of that material ends up somewhere.  The where depends on the locations of the drain. 

Do you have an on-site septic system in your back yard?  The water from that system filters through the soil in the drainfield and helps replenish the groundwater system.  Remember where your drinking water comes from?  For most people in our county, it’s groundwater.

If your house’s drain is connected to LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the public sewer utility in Thurston County, then the waste ends up at LOTT for treatment. There, the sewage is treated, the water is reclaimed and it goes into Puget Sound or into the reclaimed water system.

Most storm drains go directly into a body of water without treatment and only a few direct water to a treatment facility.

It is up to all of us to help protect our drinking water, our beautiful lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound. Be careful about what goes down the drain and what runs off of your yard, driveway, and rooftop. These five tips can help!

1. Reduce or eliminate your use of toxic products – choose safe cleaners, art supplies, detergents and more.

2. Be aware of what goes into the toilet.  Human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should be flushed, ever. This means NO wipes, feminine products, condoms, medications, undigested food, cotton swabs, etc.

3. Choose safe garden products – invest in organic fertilizers, weed tools, bird baths, mulch, and less hazardous garden products. What goes on the ground can end up in the ground or in the nearby surface water that our kids and pets love to splash in.

4. Dispose of used motor oil at one of the 33 locations that accept it for FREE.

5. Dry out latex paint and throw it in your trash. Unwanted oil based paints, solvents, and other unwanted household hazardous materials go to HazoHouse for free, safe disposal.

Remember that there is no such thing as going down a drain and “away.” It all goes somewhere and that somewhere could be anyone’s back yard. We are all connected and we are all responsible for protecting this beautiful place that we are lucky to call home.