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Groundwater Recharge with Reclaimed Water

Our local communities all produce wastewater – water that has been used and sent down the drain. This wastewater contains a variety of chemicals and pollutants picked up in area homes, offices, and businesses. The water must be collected and cleaned up before it is released back to the environment. The water can be treated to various levels of quality, using different treatment technologies, and released in a variety of ways to the environment. Most of our wastewater from urban areas is currently treated to advanced secondary standards and discharged to the marine waters of Budd Inlet. Some is treated to reclaimed water standards and reused in the community or infiltrated into the ground. The long-range plan for managing wastewater in the Lacey-Olympia-Tumwater region in the future has been centered on expanding reclaimed water production and groundwater recharge. Recently, questions and concerns about infiltration of reclaimed water have been raised. To address those questions, a multi-year study is being conducted. Findings will help policymakers make informed decisions about future reclaimed water treatment and uses.


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Reclaimed Water Infiltration Study

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance – whose members are the cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater, and Thurston County – is beginning a multi-year study. Findings will help LOTT and the communities understand how best to protect local water resources while treating and reusing reclaimed water.

Goals of the study are to improve scientific understanding of what chemicals, such as those from soaps, shampoos, household cleaners, medicines, and cosmetics, are present in local waters, what happens to them over time, and how reclaimed water interacts with groundwater and other water resources. Other goals of the study include fostering meaningful community-wide dialogue about water quality, reclaimed water, groundwater recharge, compounds of potential concern, and related watershed issues. Together, the science and the community dialogue generated during the study will help policymakers make informed decisions about future reclaimed water treatment and uses.

LOTT welcomes public input about the study effort.  You are encouraged to share questions, concerns, or interests regarding the study or sign up to receive updates about study progress and opportunities for public involvement by clicking here.


Draft Design of the Study

The draft study framework is designed to answer our communities’ questions and inform decision-making about future reclaimed water treatment and uses. Here is what we would like to learn from you to further develop the study framework and scope of work. The draft study design focuses on four key components: water quality characterization; treatment effectiveness evaluation; risk assessment;and cost/benefit analysis.

Click here to review the draft study framework, and click below to view presentation videos on the draft study design.


State of the Science and Case Studies

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State of the Science – This document provides a summary of the State of the Science, based on a review of existing scientific research, regarding reclaimed water, residual chemicals, infiltration of reclaimed water into groundwater, and related topics. This document is being used to determine the current scientific understanding of these issues and identify gaps in existing knowledge.

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Case Study Summary – This document summarizes case studies for six different projects across the country that involve infiltrating reclaimed water into groundwater. These case studies provide examples of how monitoring and studies related to infiltration of reclaimed water have been conducted in other areas of the country.


Community Advisory Group

The next meeting of the Community Advisory Group for the Reclaimed Water Infiltration Study is scheduled for Wednesday, April 2, 2014, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The meeting will include an overview of changes proposed to the draft study scope of work based on feedback from the public and various study work groups. The meeting will also include a presentation on the hydrogeologic field work and modeling proposed as part of the study. Click here for the full agenda. This is a working meeting of the Community Advisory Group. The public is welcome to attend and observe. The meeting will be held at the LOTT Regional Services Center, 500 Adams Street NE in Olympia.

The Community Advisory Group was formed to assist the LOTT Alliance Board of Directors and study team to gain an understanding of community perspectives and questions, ensure the study is designed to address community concerns, and help identify effective ways to engage the public throughout the study.

Current Phase of Work

The group is currently in their second phase of work. During this phase, the group will contribute to the development of the draft study framework and scope of work, and assist with public involvement activities to engage the public in scoping of the study. Members of the Community Advisory Group are:

Maureen Canny
John Cusick
Marissa Dallaire
Lyle Fogg
Holly Gadbaw
Karen Janowitz
Bill Liechty
Scott Morgan
Pixie Needham
Tina Peterson

View Phase 2 Materials:

Meeting 2.4 Agenda, April 2, 2014

Meeting 2.3 Summary, December 4, 2013

Meeting 2.2 Summary, October 8, 2013

Meeting 2.1 Summary, July 30, 2013

Mission and Principles of Participation – Phase 2

Phase 1

The previous phase of the Community Advisory Group’s work was completed in early June 2013. That initial phase focused on gaining an understanding of community perspectives and questions relating to infiltration of reclaimed water to groundwater.

View Phase 1 Materials:

Final Report – Phase 1

Mission and Principles of Participation – Phase 1

Meeting 1 Summary, December 11, 2012

Meeting 2 Summary, January 7, 2013

Meeting 3 Summary, February 6, 2013

Meeting 4 Summary, April 9, 2013

Meeting 5 Summary, June 5, 2013

More Information

Questions regarding the Community Advisory Group can be directed to Lisa Dennis-Perez, LOTT Public Communications Manager, at (360) 528-5719 or send an email.


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Public Involvement Plan

The Reclaimed Water Infiltration Study not only involves a scientific examination of issues related to reclaimed water and groundwater recharge, but also includes extensive public involvement. Active public engagement will foster meaningful community-wide dialogue about water quality, reclaimed water, groundwater recharge, residual chemicals, and related watershed issues. Together, the science and the community dialogue generated during the study will help policymakers make informed decisions about future reclaimed water treatment and uses.

A Public Involvement Plan has been developed to guide efforts during the study. Currently, the plan is divided into involvement activities that will be conducted as part of developing the scope of work for the study and activities that will be conducted once the scientific work of the study is underway. The Public Involvement Plan is a working document that will be adjusted and adapted as the study progresses to effectively engage the public, gather input and feedback, and encourage community dialogue about the study and related issues.

PDF Focus group work was conducted in the fall of 2013 to learn how best to communicate about the study and the technical topics involved. During a series of three focus groups, several key concepts and terms were tested to identify those that are best understood. As a result of the focus group work, the title of the study was changed from the original title “Groundwater Recharge Scientific Study” to the “Reclaimed Water Infiltration Study.” A summary report from the focus group work, which includes other key findings, is included at right.


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Public Opinion Research

Public opinion research was conducted in early 2013 to gain an understanding of existing public awareness, knowledge, interest, and perceptions regarding water, wastewater, reclaimed water, groundwater recharge, and related issues. The public opinion research also was intended to help identify preferred sources of information and ways to effectively engage the public in the study and related community dialogue. The research involved two key activities: structured, one-on-one interviews with 53 community members and a random sample telephone survey of 400 people. Both activities were completed in March 2013. Input from the public opinion research was used in developing a Public Involvement Plan to engage community members in the study.


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Compounds of Emerging Concern Science Symposium

LOTT and the Washington State Department of Health co-sponsored a science symposium about compounds of emerging concern on Friday, March 2, 2012, for local elected officials, staff, and regulators from tribal, state, and local governments and agencies. The symposium was an opportunity to learn from nationally- and internationally-renowned scientists about compounds of emerging concern (CECs). Speakers discussed the presence of CECs in the environment, potential impacts to public health and the environment, and what happens to CECs during wastewater treatment and when reclaimed water is infiltrated to groundwater. Slide presentations by each of the five speakers are available below. Videos of each of the presentations are also available below. Science symposium presentations included:

Shane A. Snyder, Ph.D – Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in the University of Arizona's College of Engineering and Co-Director of the Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants – click on the thumbnail to see the slides, or click here to watch the video presentation


Richard C. Pleus, Ph.D – Toxicologist and Director of Intertox, Inc., an environmental consulting firm with a special focus on risk assessment related to public health issues – click on the thumbnail to see the slides, or click here to watch the video presentation


Joseph A. Cotruvo, Ph.D – President of Joseph Cotruvo & Associates, an environmental and public health consulting firm and an expert for the World Health Organization/National Science Foundation International Collaborating Centre for Drinking Water Safety and Treatment – click on the thumbnail to see the slides, or click here to watch the video presentation


Jörg E. Drewes, Ph.D – Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering and Director of the Advanced Water Technology Center at the Colorado School of Mines – click on the thumbnail to see the slides, or click here to watch the video presentation


Robert Bastian – Senior Environmental Scientist with the Office of Wastewater Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. – click on the thumbnail to see the slides, or click here to watch the video presentation


A panel of all five presenters – Shane A. Snyder, Richard C. Pleus, Joseph A. Cotruvo, Jörg E. Drewes, and Robert Bastian – responds to questions from the audience about their presentations and compounds of emerging concern. Click here to watch the video presentation.


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Compounds of Emerging Concern Public Seminar

To help inform community discussions, LOTT and the Washington State Department of Health also co-sponsored a special seminar about compounds of emerging concern on Saturday, March 3, 2013. This seminar featured four of the five presenters from the previous day's symposium, in a shorter format. To view the slide presentations or videos of the speakers, please see above.


Public Comment

LOTT welcomes public comment and input about these issues. You are invited to share any questions, concerns, or interests you may have regarding reclaimed water, residual chemicals, groundwater recharge, the Reclaimed Water Infiltration Study, or related issues. Comments can be submitted by email by clicking here .

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