Submitted by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services

Whether we think about it very often or not, water quality is an essential part of every person’s life. Clean drinking water is necessary to live! Healthy rivers, streams and Puget Sound are important for local wildlife AND essential for our local economy; whether focused on shellfish harvesting, navigable waterways, or tourism. Most of us have a favorite park, river or beach spot where we take our loved ones or go to gather our thoughts and recreate. Healthy water quality is an important part of our overall health as people, and as a community. It’s also one reason why so many of us are grateful to live in this beautiful, water-rich region!

Some of the following tips will help you reduce the water that runs off of rooftops, driveways, and paved areas around our homes and in neighborhoods. Others will help you make sure that the water that does run off, doesn’t carry potentially harmful bacteria or nitrates into our lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

  • Pick up after your pet.

Pet waste can create harmful algae blooms in local waterways and carry viruses, bacteria and parasites that can cause illness in kids and adults.

  • Pump your septic system every 3-5 years.

All septic systems need to be pumped; how often depends on: how many people live in the house, what types of products are used in the home, how big the system is, etc. Hire a professional and get on a regular inspection and pumping schedule.

  • Take all unwanted household hazardous materials to HazoHouse for free disposal at 2420 Hogum Bay NE at the Waste and Recovery Center.

Hazardous products are those that have labels with, caution, warning, danger or poison as a signal word. They should be stored in a second container with a tightfitting lid to prevent spills and leaks and they can’t go into the regular trash.  

  • Wash cars at a car wash to keep soap out of local waterways.

If you simply must wash your car yourself, park on the grass instead of driveway so there is a chance for the soapy water to sink into the ground.

  • Use organic, slow-release fertilizers.

Other fertilizers can run off, causing algae blooms from excess nitrogen in waterways.

  • Plant native plants to absorb and filter water.

Native plants are a great landscaping choice because they don’t need extra watering after the first few years and should never need fertilizing, disease, or bug control.

  • Apply compost to soil and as a mulch.

Organic matter like compost and other mulches help soils soak up more water.

  • Make Clear Choices for Clean Water.

Whether you want to protect drinking water, our beautiful natural environment, or both, we can all do our part to have a positive impact on water quality in Thurston County. Contact Thurston Conservation District at 360-754-3588 ext. 105 or e-mail for more information on how to get free native plants, fertilizers and compost if you live in the Henderson or Nisqually Shellfish Protection Districts.


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