The area of Pierce County south of the City of Tacoma and north of Eatonville lies on what is called a sole source aquifer (SSA). unless you are drinking “Tacoma Water” that Tacoma Public Utilities pulls from the Green River watershed, you are probably drinking water from that aquifer. Even JBLM sits on that aquifer. It is essentially one connected giant water source underground, fed by rainwater. Note the word connected.
Sole Source Aquifers are governed and protected by special state and federal laws. Ours is designated in the Federal Register. Some contamination has already been noted on parts of JBLM and wells were shut down. Some contamination has been noted in wells close to the dump that was fought, but still sited south of Graham on 304th Street. This is serious business.
Daily, our Pierce County Planning and Land Services Department is approving developments that are not on the sewer system. These lots, under state law, are governed by the Washington State Department of Health regulation regarding the Sole Source Aquifer they are being built over, when it comes to specification regarding septic systems. But… Pierce County has allegedly been using people without proper credentials to make decision regarding wetlands delineations and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) is making decision regarding septic systems that have allowed these systems on smaller than appropriate lots sizes.
When there is a presence of water on a property, the parcel has to be delineated by a professional trained in groundwater and hydric soils, and who knows that this testing, under the law, can only be done at the wettest time of the year. Under federal law, USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers) requires a construction permit to disturb hydric parcels over 1 acre. Septic systems REQUIRE a parcel of at least 12,500 square feet.
Stay tuned. This is becoming a bigger issue in several new developments as several of our Land Use Advisory people try to push back against a county that is trying to move full speed ahead to build an urban area over the top of this SSA from Parkland and Spanaway to South Hill and Frederickson. PLEASE look up when your LUAC meetings are held and attend.