Thurston County to Create Pattison Lake Management District

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Algae at Lake Pattison. Photo taken on October 1, 2019.

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Thurston County plans to establish a new Lake Management District for Lake Pattison after receiving a petition from local residents.

In a 2-0 vote, the Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution declaring their intention to create the new district on June 21. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 26.

If formed, the Lake Management District would aim to protect the “water quality, fish and wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values” of Lake Pattison for 10 years from 2023.

The county-administered district would also include an advisory committee of five elected LMD ratepayers who would provide input to Thurston County Public Works staff. Forming the group would require an additional county employee of 0.5 full-time equivalents, said water resources manager Tim Wilson.

County officials estimate that annual rates and fees for the new LMD will result in revenue of $134,912 for the first year, but this could increase by as much as 5% each subsequent year. The county is not paying the cost of the LMD, according to county documents.

About 119 people have signed the petition, which represents about 35.7% of the total area proposed for the Lake Management District boundary, according to the resolution. This exceeded the 20% minimum set by state law.

Just before the vote, Commissioner Tye Menser said he was initially hesitant to create a new district after having problems with existing districts. However, he changed his mind after meeting with community leaders.

“I left confident that the community of Pattison Lake would work cooperatively and productively with the county on this project,” Menser said. “I know it’s a long training process, so I asked that we accomplish it in any way possible.”

The county currently holds regular LMD committee meetings for Long Lake and Pattison Lake. Recently, the county undertook a program to clarify roles and responsibilities in the LMDs.

Commissioner and Board Chair Carolina Mejia abstained during the vote on the resolution, saying she still had many unanswered questions about the district.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to meet the petitioners,” Mejia said on Tuesday. “I don’t want to delay the process, so I thought (withholding) was the best way to solve this problem.”

During an earlier public comment period, a few people expressed support for the Pattison Lake Management District.

Margaret Tudor, who sits on the Lake Pattison Association board, said she wants to work with the county to reduce toxic algae outbreaks and manage weeds.

“We appreciate the science that has been used in the past to warn us about these toxic outbreaks, but we would like to prevent them in the future,” Tudor said.

She added that residents along the lake are happy to step up to help keep the lake healthy for the county’s growing population.

Jane Appling, who also sits on the APL’s board, called the slow-moving lake a “calm and serene place” where people can recharge their batteries. Still, she said the lake has “changed drastically” over the years.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with invasive species, and we’ve certainly seen more frequent and severe toxic algal blooms on the lake,” Appling said.

Next steps

After the public hearing, the county must allow a vote of landowners whose properties are affected, according to county documents. If successful, the county can then pass an ordinance establishing LMD No. 23 as early as this fall.

A map of the proposed neighborhood shows that it will consist of riparian parcels along the lake and some communities with access to the lake.

A copy of the petition lists the activities proposed for the LMD program. He suggests the program hire a company to survey the lake to assess its water quality and identify aquatic plants and pest species.

From there, the petition proposes the vegetation and wildlife management program to ensure the safety of boaters and swimmers. This includes reducing toxic algae blooms and rapidly increasing weed growth, performing regular water testing and identifying sources of pollution.

The public hearing was scheduled for July 26 at 3 p.m. at the Thurston County Courthouse, Building 1, Room 280 at 2000 Lakeridge Drive Southwest in Olympia.

Those unable to attend can still submit written comments by mail or email by the 5 p.m. deadline on July 25.

County request letters should be sent to Paula Cracknell, Aquatic Resource Specialist, Thurston County Public Works, 9605 Tilly Road South, Olympia. Cracknell can also be emailed to [email protected]


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