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Home > Regional Planning > Environment

Guiding Growth – Healthy Watersheds

Translating science into local policy

Thurston County has many features that make it an incredible place to live.  We have lakes, rivers, streams, and the sparkling Puget Sound.  Together with the friendliness and livability of our local communities, it’s no wonder that more than 250,000 people call Thurston County home.  TRPC projects that the region will add another 140,000 people during the next quarter-century.

Yet there are downsides to the rapid population growth in Thurston County.  Growth in the wrong parts of the county can damage the health of our local watersheds.  Damaged watersheds harm lakes, rivers, streams and ultimately Puget Sound, resulting in waterways that are unhealthy or even unusable for both people and wildlife. The Guiding Growth - Healthy Watersheds project will help direct new development into priority growth areas while preserving healthy watersheds for future generations.

Project Background

Thurston County has teamed with Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) to bring watershed science into local policies that protect water quality in Puget Sound.  This collaborative effort is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The project will require working with local cities and involving people who live, work, and recreate there.

This project begins by better understanding the existing characteristics of our watersheds.  Since each watershed is unique, there is no one size fits all approach to management and protection.  Scientific studies are already under way to characterize each watershed draining into Puget Sound to determine if they are healthy or degraded.

The most effective strategies to guide growth will be linked to a watershed’s health. New management options may include changes to existing development regulations, transfer or purchase of development rights, low impact development, wetland mitigation, purchasing sensitive lands, or funding required capital projects.

Basins at risk of degradation will be identified. Computer simulations will assess the effects of various future strategies. They will take into account factors such as projected future population, employment, and transportation. The results will help identify the best management strategies for selected basins.

Finally, local jurisdictions will be able to pick which management strategies would best fit their community. Although this project will recommend a preferred management approach for each watershed, jurisdictions will need to approve these through their own public process.

Additional Information

For more information about the project, visit Thurston County's website or contact Thurston County Associate Allison Osterberg  (360) 754-3355, x7011 or osterba@co.thurston.wa.us.

Downloads

Basin Evaluation and Management Strategies for Thurston County [pdf 7 MB]
                                              

    • Map 1: Thurston County Watersheds
    • Map 2: Thurston County Basins
    • Map 3: Thurston County Analysis Units
    • Map 4: Benthic Index Of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI ) Sample Site Locations
    • Map 5: General Water Quality For Thurston County’s Streams – 2007-2009 Water Years
                                                                           
    • Map 6: 1991 Total Impervious Area By Basin
    • Map 7: 2010 Total Impervious Area by Basin
    • Map 8: 2035 Total Impervious Area by Basin
    • Map 9: Total Impervious Area Estimate At Build Out By Basin
    • Map 10: Estimated Increase in Total Impervious Area – 2010 to Buildout
                                                                               
    • Map 11: 1991 Forest Canopy by Basin
    • Map 12: 2006 Forest Canopy by Basin
    • Map 13: Forest Lands Vulnerable to Conversion
    • Map 14: Thurston County Wetlands
    • Map 15: Stream Riparian buffers                                                   
    • Map 16: Landscape Groups: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization
    • Map 17: Basin Current Conditions
    • Map 18: Importance of Waterflow – Surface Water: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization
    • Map 19: Importance of Waterflow – Groundwater Recharge: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization
    • Map 20: Importance of Waterflow – Groundwater Discharge: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization              
                                       

Estimates of Current and Future Impervious Area For Watershed Based Land Use Planning Thurston County, November 2013 [pdf 3 MB]

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (PO -00J12401-0) to Thurston County. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. 

Featured Links

Public Workshop 

Residents of the
McLane Creek and Black Lake basins  -

Wednesday, April 9, 
6-8 p.m.
Black Lake Grange Hall  - 6011 Black Lake Blvd. SW

View the flyer [pdf]

 

 


Regional Plan for Sustainable Developmentfind out more information about this exciting project! Learn More >

The Profile
Looking for information about Thurston County? The Profile is a compilation of statistics, trends, analyses, and comparisons for Thurston County and its individual jurisdictions.
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Thurston Regional Trails Plan
The Regional Trails Plan offers a vision for a region-wide trail network that connects people with places not just within Thurston County, but also looks beyond its borders for potential connections with neighboring counties.
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2424 Heritage Court SW, Suite A, Olympia, Washington 98502 360-956-7575