Friday, March 16, 2012

A LOTT More to Learn About LOTT

Above: The LOTT Clean Water Alliance was looking a little surreal today.

A LOTT More to Learn About LOTT

By Janine Unsoeld

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance board of directors will meet at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, March 17, at LOTT, 500 Adams St. SW, for a day-long retreat to discuss public accountability, contemporary issues, board goals and policies, and updates to LOTT's strategic business plan. The retreat is expected to adjourn no later than 3 p.m. The public is invited, but comments from the public will not be allowed.

An agenda detailing the retreat’s subject matter was distributed to the public and board members by LOTT executive director Mike Strub at a work session of the board Wednesday night. LOTT is at the end of its current six year business plan and will take time to develop a new strategic business plan for 2013 – 2018.

LOTT is a regional water and wastewaste treatment organization representing Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County. The LOTT board is composed of Cynthia Pratt, Lacey city councilmember, Steve Langer, Olympia city councilmember, and Sandra Romero, Thurston County commissioner. Tom Oliva, Tumwater city councilmember, is currently representing Tumwater.

At Wednesday night’s LOTT board meeting, board members and staff honored the recent passing of Tumwater city councilmember and LOTT board president Ed Stanley with remembrances and a moment of silence.

Among other business, board members heard a variety of staff requests for expenditures having to do with infrastructure, an operations control room remodel, a motor control center upgrade, and an electrical room audit and equipment replacement plan. LOTT board members actively engaged staff with questions and approved the requests. As noted by LOTT board member Steve Langer, “It’s not glamorous work, but important work.”

A new board president was not chosen due to the absence of Tom Oliva, who had another meeting to attend. Lacey city councilmember Cynthia Pratt serves as vice-president and is acting president until a president is chosen at next month’s meeting.

Getting To Know Cynthia Pratt

Above: Lacey city councilmember Cynthia Pratt today.

Earlier this month, Pratt attended LOTT’s recent science symposium on compounds – contaminants – of emerging concern. (See March 5 article, “A LOTT of Concerns About Drinking Water Quality and related articles at

Asked later what she learned that was new to her at the symposium, Pratt, a retired fish and wildlife biologist, said, “What I learned was that even saccharine shows up in effluent. Is it dangerous? Well, as the toxicologist stated, it depends on dosage and susceptibility. People with the least robust immune systems are at risk. And yes, this is how risk is determined---or at least that is how my pesticides class at TESC defined risk.”

Pratt received her Master’s in Environmental Science in 1992 from The Evergreen State College.

“Also, it was noted by one or two presenters that California uses not only tertiary treatment plus ultraviolet but then reverse osmosis then puts it into their drinking water reservoir where it gets contaminated again by birds and animals! Someone in the audience thought this was commendable, but it seemed strange to me.”

Asked whether or not our society can be a little too risk averse, Pratt responded, “Well, I must admit, my daughter and grandchildren live in Zambia where, occasionally, snakes end up in the toilet, and when you go to the villages, there are open sewage ditches with planks you walk across to get to the other side!”

Helping Lacey and Thoughts About LOTT

Lacey is a member of the National League of Cities, and Pratt was recently accepted by the League onto the Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources steering committee. The committee meets four times a year.

Pratt just returned this past weekend from a League meeting in Washington D.C., where she heard a presentation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speak about energy efficiency and weatherization, and water infrastructure, repair and maintenance.

“I feel really pleased to do this, and give input, because it can help get funding into municipalities, and of course, Lacey really cares about that. And we’re hoping to get money for repairs, because leaking sewer pipes are a major source of non-point source pollution,” said Pratt.

To clarify the role of the LOTT board, Pratt explained that the board does not provide environmental oversight. “It is accountable to ratepayers, ensure financial solvency, and makes sure it follows its interagency agreements.”

Asked about the groundwater study LOTT is beginning, to examine the issue of increasing the recharge of our groundwater with reclaimed water, Pratt said the study’s scope of work will definitely include public involvement.

“If we did determine that any change to what we're doing now is the way to go, it would have to be based on sound science. If you have to go with something that’s going to cost ratepayers more, they need to be involved.”

“I’m hoping we don’t have to go to reverse osmosis – the process takes a lot of energy and there’s no easy place to put the brine,” Pratt concluded.

“I am looking forward to the study that LOTT will do, but the question is, will it then be believed if it shows that LOTT doesn't contaminate our drinking water? Probably not. We need to do the study - don't get me wrong - but what are we going to do then, if it does show an effect? We certainly can then take aggressive action to eliminate contamination,” Pratt said.

Asked whether or not LOTT should have a citizen’s advisory committee to help provide input, Pratt said, “You know, LOTT is a funny entity. There isn’t an advisory committee. It isn’t set up that way. It’s not a municipality – it has a business model like the Economic Development Council (EDC) or a public utility district. It’s not that you can’t have one, and I’m not against having one,” said Pratt.

Pratt noted that she is a proponent of open government. She, along with Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, has long advocated that LOTT board meetings be televised on cable television. LOTT has so far been reluctant to do so.

Pratt noted that as a Lacey city councilmember, she and fellow councilmember Andy Ryder recently succeeded in getting Lacey city council meetings to be streamed on the city of Lacey website, for those who do not have television. As a councilmember, she also hosts informal monthly breakfasts for the public to speak with her about various concerns.

Regarding the LOTT board retreat meeting tomorrow to develop a new strategic business plan, Pratt says, “This is an opportunity (for LOTT) to do more.”

For more information about LOTT or the board retreat, go to or call the LOTT Clean Water Alliance at (360) 528-5719.

To reach Lacey Councilmember Cynthia Pratt, contact her at, or at her Lacey city council office, (360) 491-3214.