Our Aquifer, water IS life Pierce County!

Editorial: Marianne Lincoln

In the wake of the Puget Sound Regional Council deciding that Pierce County was out of compliance with the Growth Management Act in Washington State, the Pierce County Council responded by passing a resolution that by December 2017, all the land in the Urban Growth Area would be either annexed or incorporated into free standing cities. Believe them, or, as usual, don’t believe them, this actually passed at the end of June 2016.

Pierce County has a reputation of building lots of houses, lots and lots of houses. They usually do so at the frustration of school and fire districts who cannot keep up with services. They also continue to do so at the frustration of those who live south of Clover Creek and sit in traffic jams and those who might be concerned about septic systems sitting on top of a sole source aquifer. Yes, read that again, sole source aquifer. Get to know that word. It’s means, your water source, unless you get Tacoma water from the Green River in another county (chock full of fluoride, but that’s another story).

The Army Corps of Engineers let a giant garbage dump be built on the sole source aquifer already. Yes, supposedly there’s a liner under it, but have you seen it lately? It’s taking in garbage from all over the county and it’s a small mountain in just 20 years. The trees can’t possibly screen it, it is four times higher than the tallest tree in the area. It now can cast a shadow back on Meridian hill. Drive out in the county and see how much you throw away, folks.

Our sole source aquifer (SSA) is replenished by rain, that is all. If it doesn’t soak back into the ground, if it runs off into the river and sewers, it can’t regenerate water for the systems wells. This explains why there is a giant hole in the ground near the asphalt roads in your housing development. That water needs to recharge the aquifer. Now sometimes the rains of February and March push the aquifer right up above ground. Places like the oxbow of Frederickson near Liberty Middle School. Frederickson Lake on 192nd Street and across 208th Street at 31st Ave. If it gets contaminated, all the water supplies of all the water companies except Tacoma are doomed.

Read that again, except Tacoma are doomed. They get their water from a different source. Have you ever thought about the control Tacoma has over what is happening in the South County development? If our aquifer is ruined, they could be selling us water. <ca-ching $$> The two giant water plants out here are using Tacoma water already, not our aquifer. Food for thought.

Pierce County’s Sewage Treatment Plant at Chamber’s Bay is being expanded, it was running out of capacity to handle all the flushes from all the houses across the county. Never mind, that some of the money was sidetracked into a different flush fund for the Chamber’s Bay Golf Course Development. The Planning and Land Services Department now wants to continue to build house in the expectation that “someday” the sewer will extend to those locations. Read that as, they will build 6 to ten units per acre on septic systems flushing your excrement, prescription drugs and dish water and your neighbors into the ground and into the sole source aquifer.

A little history here. The county many years ago forced the around known as Parkland onto sewers. They charged every homeowner at least 4 or 5 thousand dollars or more, by front footage to put these in place. The reason was, their shallow wells in the area, their water source had become permanently contaminated from septic systems.

Here is a link from Region 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding Central Pierce County’s Clover/Chamber’s Creek Aquifer.

From another source, a quote: “Originator: Pierce County Planning Cartography
Title: Ground Water Pollution Potential (coverage name: DRASTIC)”

Here is a link to the Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed Action Plan from 1997. How much worse is this now?

Here’s a quote from that 1997 plan:

EXISTING WATERSHED POLLUTION PROBLEMS

Water quality in the Chambers Clover Creek Watershed has deteriorated substantially as the area has become urbanized over the past century. Fish habitat has been impaired and native runs have substantially declined;…”

Drastic? Wow, that wasn’t very reassuring was it? Removal of trees that catch water and release it slowly into the ground affects this as well. In the 1997 plan, they already knew there was a problem. And yet, they want to KEEP BUILDING HOUSES in urban densities on septic systems in the mid county??

So please, go look who is funding the candidates for county office. How often do you see, Master Builders Association, Real Estate names, Association of General Contractors, etc. on the politicians fundraising disclosures? (What? You don’t look to see who supports the guys & gals you vote for?) Then understand why the Pierce Communities Coalition formed. They are the people who have been on the front lines watching this deterioration from community associations, land use committee and plans. Heed the warnings. There is great reason they are raising flags. Ask the elected officials from the $ interests of Tacoma what they think they are doing! Here is the link to campaign money. Look up your favorites.

Here is what we should see: Dear Pierce County, stop building houses and start protecting our environment. You made the Urban Growth Area too big! You have not kept up the sewer coverage, you have not kept up the road grid, you have not kept up the local policing. We keep having to build more schools and pay for higher crime. You are not creating quality communities. You are creating more and more problems. Get caught up or stop it. Just stop. This isn’t working. No one should be stuck in traffic snarls 12 miles south of I-5, halfway to Mt. Rainier. Smell the coffee, please.

Share this. All over the county, before the election, share and share. They need to fix this. Don’t let them blame it on the guy in the office before them, or pass it to the next one. Get in their face, put the screws to the ones there now. Your lives do depend on it.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Deb Dearinger says:

    Nice explanation, Marianne.

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