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Johns Creek study underway, but needs more funding

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Representatives from the Department of Ecology and the United States Geological Survey (USGS-) held a briefing in Shelton Monday on the status of a hydrogeologic study on the Johns Creek Basin.

"Water management is something we're looking at closer than ever," said Sally Toteff of Ecology. "Water is a finite resource ... there might not be as much as

everyone is demanding. We really need to understand more about what's going on in the basin."

Ecology first became interested in studying water flow in the Johns Creek Basin when representative from the Squaxin Island Tribe contacted the organization about concerns over diminished flows in Johns Creek 15 months ago, said Tom Lor-anger of Ecology.

The Creek, which serves as habitat for both chum and coho species of salmon, was not achieving minimum flow levels from February through September.

That's not a good thing, we want there to be healthy flow," Mark Savoca of Ecology said. "What USGS is doing is the first step in a multistep process. In order to manage groundwater and surface water you need to understand both."

The Squaxin Island Tribe, along with Ecology, was concerned that an increase in development in the basin, and an increase in wells, would further deplete the creek, and the groundwater that feeds it through much of the year.

The USGS study is designed to ultimately find out just how much water there is in the John's Creek Basin and how much of a threat to the creek further development in the area is.

The first phase of the project is to create a hydrogeologic map of the basin. Wendy Welch of USGS is lead ing that effort by compiling date from 230 wells of varying depths in the ba- "Basically we're just mapping where [the aquifers] are and how thick they are," she said.

The full report from the first phase of the groundwater project should be available in September, Welch said.

However, the first phase is the only certain phase of the study. While the entire groundwater study for the basin should cost $285,000, and Ecology has only secured $69,000 of funding. During the briefing, Ecology representatives asked attendees to brainstorm possible funding sources.

"There are a number of challenges that have been tackled and a number of challenges coming up," Toteff said.

In response to concerns over the future availability of water in the Johns Creek Basin, Mason County PUD 3 partnered with the city last year to install a pipeline pumping city water up to its Johns Prairie complex.

The line also has 150 available hookups for water customers in the basin, said Joel Myer of PUD 3.

When completed, the entire Ecology study should give local organizations an idea of how many more wells the aquifers in the basin can support and how best to restore flow to Johns Creek.

"They only have $70,000 to spend in this study and that's really just a drop in the bucket for what they need," Shelton City Commissioner Dawn Pannell said during Monday evening's city commission meeting



Copyright 2011 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

© 2011 Shelton-Mason County Journal Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from DAS.

Original Publication Date: May 19, 2011



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