Managing the safety of the lake

BOCC hears public comments for proposed Pattison Lake Management District


Pattison Lake residents are pushing for the creation of a county-supported lake management district, which they believe would help protect and oversee the improvement of water quality and safety in the lake.

The Thurston Board of County Commissioners yesterday and held the public hearing for the proposed formation of Pattison Lake Management District (PLMD). About 35 community members – in-person and online – expressed support for creating PLMD.

Water quality deteriorating

Public commenter Mark, who said he had been a Pattison Lake homeowner for 24 years, said he had witnessed a deterioration in the water quality. "Like others, I tried to study and research it the best I could to learn why it is happening. The short answer is nutrient pollution."

Mark also blamed the water quality deterioration on other factors, including excessive use of fertilizers, warmer water temperatures, stormwater runoff or erosion control, malfunctioning septic systems, improper waste disposal, and possibly contaminated groundwater.

Mark said aquatic weeds take over faster and now cover a large portion of the lake, reducing the enjoyment of swimming and access to boating and presenting safety issues.

There had been an increase in blue-green algae blooms over the years, which could cause a health hazard, Mark added.

"We realized that if we don't face reality; if we don't work together as a community, and if we don't commit financially, then the health of our lake will continue to suffer," Mark said.

Daniel Lowe, who said he has been living in North Pattison Lake for 37 years, expressed support for creating the PLMD, which he believed would positively impact the lake problem.

"We, who live around Pattison Lake inadvertently put all kinds of bad stuff in the lake, and it causes problems with water quality, plant growth and algae blooms… it is time for us to take some responsibility for offsetting and positively impacting these problems," said Lowe.

Comment about toxic algae

Adena Gardner raised the issue of the community’s safety regarding toxic algae. She received a link from someone else with Thurston County notification confirming the presence of toxic algae bloom in Pattison Lake.

"We were all very surprised that this was going on. And I think the assumption is that whoever is in charge of notifying us will stick fat signs around on the ends of our roads so that the whole community can see. I found out that Thurston County Health is limited to just posting a sign at the boat dock. And we as citizens are supposed just to call them and get a notification sent to us, and that we can't add additional signage to those that might be visiting," Gardner said.

Gardner believed that having PLMD would improve prompt communication to the community, actively using the lake and not visually seeing the warning signs.

Rob Peters emphasized the need for safe environments as he shared the incident of a man who drowned in the lake in March 2020.

Daniel Lowe recounted, "his boat got away from him. He thought he could swim after it. He got caught in the reeds and drowned.” Lowe added he was the one who called 911, but it was his wife who witnessed the man go under.

Public commenter Wayne said forming a PLMD might increase property taxes. "But we are willing to do that to save this lake…I look forward to the day when my taxes might be raised, but we can do something to stop what we've seen up to now."

PLMD update

Tim Wilson, Public Works Water Resources manager, said the Thurston Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to establish the proposed PLMD on June 26, 2022.

"The legal process for the formation of a proposed lake management district (LMD) takes several months and includes multiple steps, including the passing of a resolution of intention to establish the LMD, a public hearing to hear community comments, authorization of a vote of landowners with affected properties," Wilson said at the opening of the public hearing.

RCW 36.61 requires the BOCC to consider whether the formation of the proposed LMD appears to be both in the public interest and whether the financing of the LMB maintenance activities is feasible before authorizing a community vote.

Wilson added that the Board might authorize a vote by the affected property owners by adopting a resolution of findings and determinations, which would be developed and presented by staff later.

The Pattison Lake Association initiated a petition, stating that the purpose of the proposed PMLD is to protect the water quality, fish and wildlife, recreation and aesthetic values of Pattison Lake through the implementation of appropriate lake management programs.

Wilson said the PLMD is proposed for 10 years, beginning on January 1, 2023, and ending on December 31, 2032.


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