In 2005 the City of Lacey was running out of water. New construction was impossible without water. The city issued an order – - no water to developments outside the city limits. Even though Lacey had always supplied water to housing in its Urban Growth Area (UGA) – - it now said – no more.
By 2008, the water issue had become so critical, that even developments within the city limits were having trouble getting water.
For a decade, Lacey had asked the Department of Ecology (DOE) for permission to pump more water from the ground and allow it to build new wells. Ecology didn’t really answer, but it delayed granting any permits saying it didn’t have the staff to handle the request. Lacey was so desperate to get the permits that it even offered to pay Ecology for staff to process the permits.
Then an opportunity presented itself. The City of Olympia received its water from an open source at McAllister Springs. Ecology ordered Olympia to find another source of water saying the open springs was too close to railroad tracks and was susceptable to possible oil spills.
Then, an opportunity presented itself. LOTT was looking for sources to use its reclaimed water. An agreement was reached with the Nisqually and Squaxin tribes and with the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Yelm for a mitigation agreement.
Nearly $5 million dollars would be spent to mitigate the impact on the DesChutes River and Woodland Creek watershed from the drilling of new wells. It was a complicated agreement.
Money would be spent for habitat mitigation in the area. Lacey would purchase land on the DesChutes and on Woodland Creek, that would remain free of development.
Lacey would take the reclaimed water generated from the LOTT plant on Martin Way and pump it to a site in the Woodland Creek Park. The city spent nearly a million dollars laying purple pipe along Carpenter Road to a reclaimed water discharge facility at the park.
After spending nearly $3.4 million dollars, the four-acre water reclaimed site south of Woodland Creek Park and just north of the Woodland Trail, opened to fanfare and dignitaries. The Department of Ecology was pleased and touted the entire effort as an example of teamwork between multiple partners to a complex water resource challenge.
With the initial signing of the agreement, the City of Lacey drilled new wells and began issuing building permits. Olympia drilled new wells and severed its relationship with surface water sources. Yelm got the opportunity to get new water right permits.
With the opening of the reclaimed water discharge area this week, the mitigation of impact on Woodland Creek and the DesChutes river watershed is almost finished.