Wednesday, November 14, 2012

LOTT Groundwater Recharge Study Group: 16 Community Members Appointed

LOTT Groundwater Recharge Study Group:  16 Community Members Appointed
By Janine Unsoeld

At the LOTT Clean Water Alliance meeting Wednesday night, the board approved a motion to appoint 16 members to the LOTT's Community Advisory Group for the Groundwater Recharge Scientific Study.

The members are: Maureen Canny, John Cusick, Marissa Dallaire, Lyle Fogg, Holly Gadbaw, William Gill, Azeem Hoosein, Karen Janowitz, Emily Lardner, Bill Liechy, Scott Morgan, Pixie Needham, Tina Peterson, Ruth Shearer, Edward Steinweg, and Richard Wallace.

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance is beginning a multi-year study, called the Groundwater Recharge Scientific Study, to help LOTT and the community better understand how to protect local water resources while treating and recharging reclaimed water.
According to a staff report, the community advisory group is being formed for the groundwater study with a mission to assist the LOTT Alliance Board and a study team gain an understanding of community perspectives and questions, and ensure the study is designed to address community concerns. The group will also help identify effective ways to engage the public throughout the study.

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance received 39 applicants by the September 14 application deadline. The LOTT Board, comprised of four local elected officials representing the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County, reviewed all the applications and met on October 29 to select members for the group. The selected individuals have been contacted by LOTT and confirmed their willingness to serve on the advisory group.
The group’s mission and work plan are detailed in a seven page Mission and Principles of Participation document prepared by LOTT staff.  Applicants are expected to serve four to five months, and attend about one meeting a month, for Phase I of the study. They will be invited to continue for the duration of the study, expected to last about four years, but are not obligated to, said Lisa Dennis-Perez, LOTT's public communication manager, in her staff report to the LOTT Board tonight.

Dennis-Perez said it has been very difficult to coordinate 16 people's schedule for their first meeting, but a date is anticipated in mid-December. Observers are welcome at the meetings and there will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of each meeting.

LOTT board member, Tumwater city councilmember Tom Oliva, asked staff about scheduling a time to meet the community group representatives.  Applicants were not interviewed by the board, but selected based on their applications.  Due to scheduling difficulties, Dennis-Perez suggested that LOTT board members attend one of their meetings.

Community Advisory Group Members 

The community group represents several state workers, a doctor in pediatrics, an engineer, a retired nurse, and a former elected official, among other aspects that may have played a role in their interest in being involved with the study group.
Little Hollywood contacted several applicants to request information about why they wanted to serve on the committee, what they had to offer the group and the LOTT Board, and what they hoped to learn. Several were able to respond on short notice.
Holly Gadbaw
A former elected official, Holly Gadbaw, was the first to respond:

“I served on the LOTT Advisory Committee, later the Alliance, for 15 years. I was part of making the decisions on the treatment systems used at LOTT today, the agreement to form the Alliance, and the components of the highly managed plan. I was knowledgeable about the science that was the basis of these decisions. However, it has been 10 years since I have delved into the science on which managing wastewater treatment should be based, and would appreciate the opportunity to bring my knowledge on the subject up-to-date.”
In her application, Gadbaw said she also pointed out that she thought that she had experience that would benefit the group:

“I served on the Olympia City Council for 19 years, was a member and chair at various times of the LOTT Advisory Committee and Thurston Regional Planning Council for 15 years, chaired Olympia’s Land Use Committee, served on the County’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee, served on Intercity Transit’s (IT) Advisory Committee (after I left the Council) and was involved in reviewing and approving several comprehensive plans, shoreline management plans, utility plans, and economic development plans. At the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), I oversaw the development of a series of guidebooks on growth management issues, including economic development. As a Hearings Board member, I have reviewed and written decisions on comprehensive plans’, including utility plans’ compliance with the Growth Management Act (GMA). I am certified as a senior mediator with the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), and am a longtime member of the Heritage Park Board.”
Gadbaw said she was interested in the study because “decisions on future sewage treatment and decisions about regulations to protect our aquifers will be informed by this study.”

Emily Lardner

Applicant Emily Lardner of Olympia is a faculty member at The Evergreen State College. She responded:
"Ground water matters to me because it matters for all of us, and decisions we make today affect not only our health, but the health of future generations. The nature of groundwater requires that we act as good stewards. At the same time, LOTT has to find places to put reclaimed water which may include recharging aquifers. The intersection of these two issues—finding places to put reclaimed water and keeping groundwater clean for future generations—is at the heart of this advisory committee’s work."

Lardner also said that because she served on the Utilities Advisory Committee for the city for several years, and now serves on the Thurston County Storm and Surface Water Board, she felt she had some background knowledge that would be helpful.
She added, “I am very keen to see how the work of this group unfolds.”
Karen Janowitz
Karen Janowitz is a Program Coordinator at the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program. She has over 20 years of experience in project leadership and management, facilitation, small group skills, environmental education, communications and administration. Janowitz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from the University of Colorado and a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) from The Evergreen State College.
In her response to Little Hollywood, Janowitz said, “I’m very interested in water issues, both in the natural and built environments. I focused on watersheds, riparian areas, and land use when I got my MES, and worked for many years in water resources at WSU Thurston County Extension. There, I ran a water resource education program for real estate professionals (teaching them issues from wetlands and woodlands to septics and low-impact development, among others), and facilitated the EETAC (Environmental Education Technical Advisory Committee) group.”
Janowitz added, “I’ve got an analytical and scientific mind, I’m community oriented, and have a good idea of how politics work in the region, all factors why I feel that I can contribute to the LOTT study group. I’m also excited to be involved in water issues again since I now work on energy issues.”

Ruth Shearer
Ruth Shearer of Lacey is a retired registered nurse and toxicologist with a Ph.D. in Genetics, and author of a book, Adventures in Seeking Environmental Justice in the 1980s, published in 2010. She is active with a variety of community organizations, including the Panorama Democratic Study Group, which hosts a monthly speaker series on the Panorama campus in Lacey. She also serves on the City of Lacey Planning Commission.
Asked why she wanted to serve on LOTT’s groundwater community advisory group committee, she said she was very concerned about drugs and other compounds of emerging concern in our reclaimed water system. She said she will be an inquisitive group member.

“I want to serve to find out whether and how toxic chemicals in wastewater are removed in the process of making class A reclaimed water. For at least four years I have helped lobby the legislature for passage of the Secure Medicine Return bill to keep drugs out of wastewater and leachate, and we still haven't been able to pass it. Big Pharma fights it tooth and nail. They would have to pay for it, between 1 and 2 cents per bottle. They can easily afford it, but know it would set a precedent for other states. I don't want drugs and other toxic chemicals in reclaimed water used for groundwater recharge, or even for irrigation, since pets, birds and squirrels may drink from the puddles.”

“I'm also interested in the depth and quality of soil between recharge sources and the aquifers. I guess I am interested in all aspects of the study, including the qualifications and independence of the study contractor.”
For more information about the study and the community advisory group, contact Lisa Dennis-Perez, Public Communications Manager, at or (360) 528-5719.
More articles about the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the Groundwater Recharge Scientific Study, and compounds of emerging concern can be found at, using the search button.

Above: Newly-appointed LOTT Clean Water Alliance Groundwater Recharge Scientific Study group member Ruth Shearer, above, introducing Washington State then-candidate for governor Jay Inslee at a Panorama Democratic Study Group event in early October.