Contamination Event Spurs Public Involvement


   The City of Tumwater, Washington, draws ground water from three aquifers: the Vashon
   Advance Outwash, Quarternary Alluvial, and Tertiary-Quaternary Undifferentiated
   deposits. The Tumwater Water System (TWS) operates 12 wells, five storage tanks, and
   five pumping stations to supply the water needs of over 30,000 people who live and work
   there. In February 1993, the city obtained a $170,500 grant from the State of
   Washington's Centennial Clean Water Fund to develop a wellhead protection program
   (WHPP). Tumwater provided dollar-for-dollar matching funds. Later that year, TCE was
   detected in three production wells; Trichloroethylene (TCE) exceeded the federal
   Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in one well. A subsequent investigation found 19
   potential contaminant sources (PCSs) in the vicinity. The discovery of the TCE
   contamination led to the establishment of a federal Superfund site within an urbanized
   area of the city. Growing awareness of such pollution has led to a great sense of
   concern for the public water supply. Citizens have expressed strong interest in source
   water protection issues, and public meetings on the subject are well attended.

   Priority Contamination Threat

   The priority contamination threat is from Trichloroethylene (TCE).

   Local Involvement and Developing the Protection  Plan

   Tumwater participated in a Regional Groundwater Policy Advisory Group that consisted
   of elected officials from three cities and the county, with the goal of creating water
   protection policies that are consistent across the county. Public involvement in the
   source water protection effort reflects the interest and concern for drinking water that is
   shared by many Tumwater residents. Proposed aquifer protection ordinances that were
   brought to the table by a cooperative three-city utilities staff collective were discussed at
   council meetings that were open to the public. The TWS received a great deal of
   feedback on the proposals that helped to create the successful program. Notices and
   descriptions of the wellhead protection program were published in the city newsletter
   and each of the city's two Consumer Confidence Reports (mandated by the Federal Safe
   Drinking Water Act Amendments). The process of developing budgets for source water
   protection also attracts a great deal of public involvement.

   Management Measures

   Management measures that have been implemented to control priority sources of
   potential contamination include overlay zones prohibiting certain land uses, land use
   controls that are being phased in  (described below),  public education efforts, and a
   business pollution prevention program that is accomplished through municipal technical
   assistance with protection compliance. In addition, the city requires owners of failed
   septic systems to hook up to city sewers.
Office of Water (4606M)                      816F10051                             January 2010

   As a result of the Regional Groundwater Policy Advisory Group's team-building efforts,
   each city adopted aquifer protection ordinances. The wellhead protection area for
   Tumwater and other municipalities extends beyond the municipal boundaries;
   underscoring the need for all of the cities and the county to adopt similar rules governing
   aquifer protection. The Policy Advisory Group also offers local businesses technical
   assistance in compliance with protection objectives.

   Tumwater's local ground water protection effort predates the Amendments to the Federal
   Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which mandated such action;  it was started in
   anticipation of Washington State's  passage of similar legislation. Tumwater's aquifer
   protection law is called the Critical  Areas Ordinance, and it has been incorporated into
   the city's Growth Management Act, which protects the natural resources within city limits.
   Regulations for new land uses require that there be no adverse impact on ground water
   quality. Expanding businesses are held to the same high standard. Regulating existing
   land uses has proven to be trickier, but the city  is moving towards implementing stricter
   ground water regulations for businesses that already exist.

   In 2004, Tumwater passed two ordinances further protecting the sensitive aquifers. The
   first ordinance reduced the amount of time that a property owner has to restart a non-
   conforming operation from two years to six months within Wellhead Protection Areas
   (WHPA's). The second ordinance regulates non-conforming land-uses within the 6-
   month and 1-year WHPA's that have a high probability to contaminate groundwater,
   such as gas stations and dry cleaners, requiring the owner to relocate their operation
   outside the WHPA within 10 years.

   Since 2000, staff has coordinated with Thurston County's Environmental Health
   Department to conduct onsite visits to local businesses every other year to assess their
   use, storage,  and disposal of hazardous materials to ensure compliance with  local
   regulations, such as the Nonpoint Source Pollution Ordinance.

   Contingency Planning

   In the event of an emergency, Tumwater can obtain water for its residents through two
   connections with the nearby City of Olympia. Tumwater also continues to evaluate new
   areas for source water development to supplement its wellfields. Unfortunately,
   Tumwater has had to deal with finding workable contingency plans after serious water
   shortages were caused by the TCE contamination. If there is a silver lining to this event,
   it is that Tumwater can rest assured that in the event of another emergency, it will not be
   without potable water.

   Measuring Program Effectiveness

   The city and county staff conduct sampling of all municipal public supply wells, as well
   as private and monitoring wells near potential sources of contamination. This  has the
   dual effect of measuring the effectiveness of management programs and protecting
   against potential pollution. In addition, staff periodically conduct onsite visits to local
   businesses to assess how well they maintain storm water infiltration ponds, and conduct
   other outreach efforts to continuously measure  program effectiveness.
Office of Water (4606M)                        816F10051                               January 2010

   For further information, contact:
   Dan Smith
   Water Resources Program Manager
   City of Tumwater
   (360) 754-4140
Office of Water (4606M)                       816F10051                              January 2010