Evergreen Students Solicit Support for Composting Toilet Project

My name is Jillian Simpson and I am a sophomore at The Evergreen State College in the Ecological Agriculture program. This quarter we are studying composting systems. Two other students and I (Stephanie Techner, a junior, and Christine Burgess, a graduating senior) are working on an independent project to install a composting toilet.

Although students have tried to install a composting toilet for many years on campus, this is the first time it has been approved across the board. In the past, students have only been granted the right to install a composting toilet as a demonstration or educational toilet, and the public would not have access to it. Our project has been approved to install the composting toilet in the community garden.

The community garden is an area of the 24-acre organic farm that is designated for use by community members and students to grow their own food, and there is currently no toilet facility available nearby. The composting toilet system that is allowed by law is expensive and we currently are short on funds.

Our system is being purchased from National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), who has agreed to discount the toilet by $598.00. The Thurston County Health Department has a rebate offer once the toilet is installed, for $350.00. This leaves us with a minimum cost of $1046.00 for the toilet system.

We have designed a permanent structure to house the composting toilet system in which, according to permitting, must be constructed of new, rather than recycled materials. We designed the structure to find the lowest cost option while still allowing for expansion and portability, to meet the needs of future generations. The school has donated solar panels and minimal funds for building materials. The structure will be constructed by students in the Practices of Sustainable Agriculture program who will be educated about proper building techniques. We have requested and received donations and are holding a fundraiser for the remaining costs of the building materials.

The purpose of this communication is in request of your financial assistance, or your assistance with informing others who can assist us financially. The installation of this composting toilet will benefit you directly by providing you with assurance that students and community members will be educated about ecological methods of managing their waste. It will also assure that community garden attendees will have composting toilet facilities nearby.

We are really addressing a major problem: More often we are educated about natural foods and then we avoid our waste by flushing it away. Inside our structure will be educational material pertaining to topics such as: ecological and human health risks associated with using the conventional human waste system, and information and directions for home composting toilet options.

We planned on having the project completed by the end of the quarter, which is June 9th 2006. Because of the brevity of our timeline, our lack of funds, and the importance of this project, we are requesting for your consideration in assisting us. The total amount of funds we are lacking is $1046.00.

Contributions would be tax deductible if desired.

If you can assist, please contact either myself, Jillian Simpson, at (360) 292-0231, or our academic advisor, Dr. Steven Scheuerell, at (360) 866-6000 ext. 6063.

Thank you again, for taking the time to review our request.

Congressman Brian Baird to Hold Online Town Hall Meeting Wednesday, May 24

Congressman Brian Baird will be holding his first online town hall meeting, or e-town hall, this Wednesday, May 24th from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PST. Baird is encouraging interested citizens to submit questions in advance by visiting his website, www.house.gov/baird and clicking on “E-Town Hall.”

You can then participate live by going to his website from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PST on Wednesday, May 24.

If you are unable to participate in the live e-town hall, a full transcript of the online town hall meeting will be available on his website at the conclusion of the meeting.

Taylor Shellfish Seed Sales in May, June, July and August

Taylor Shellfish Farms will hold not one, but four shellfish seed sales this summer. If you have beachfront property, you may be interested in growing your own oysters, clams, mussels and geoduck.

The sales in Shelton are all from 8:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. and are on May 27th, June 24th, July 22nd, and August 19th.

Click here for driving directions.

Click here for price lists, growing methods, FAQs and much more.

Taylor Shellfish Farms reminds residents that they can be a friend of Puget Sound with these steps:

  • Get involved in local shoreline and growth management planning
  • Maintain your septic system in good working order
  • Collect and dispose of pet waste in areas where it can not wash into surface waters
  • Fence your horses or cows out of streams
  • Recycle used motor oil and dispose of household hazardous wastes at appropriate facilities, not in your yard or septic system.

Thurston County Kicks Off Its “No on 933” Campaign

Initiative 933 is a costly scheme that would force communities to either unfairly waive important neighborhood safeguards, or pay special interests potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to comply with the law.

According to the Community Protection Coalition, “It’s simple: if I-933 passes, special interests win, and taxpayers lose.”

The Community Protection Coalition is staging a kickoff event for their “No on 933” campaign on Thursday, May 25th at 6:30 pm at the First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St. SE, Olympia. Click here for a map to First Christian Church.

If passed, I-933 would:

  • Costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, for years to come
  • Allows government to waive rules that protect our communities – to benefit special interests
  • Creates loopholes for irresponsible development (and more traffic!) that will harm our quality of life now and for future generations
  • Takes away a neighborhood’s right to protect themselves and their property
  • Leads to bureaucratic chaos and endless lawsuits

I-933 in brief:

  • Requires state and local governments to exempt certain property owners from any land use, zoning or environmental law adopted or changed since the beginning of 1996, unless government pays the property owner for complying with the law.
  • Requires communities to give exemptions — or pay with your tax dollars — for logging rules, shoreline protections, water-use laws, and key safeguards that keep toxic chemicals out of rivers, streams, and Puget Sound.
  • I-933 is very similar to Referendum 48, the ill-conceived measure that was rejected by 60 percent of Washington’s voters in 1995.

I-933 costs too much

I-933’s payoffs for irresponsible development will cost millions of already over-stretched taxpayer dollars – money that could be used for funding for public services like schools, roads and public safety.

I-933 creates special interest loopholes

I-933 makes communities choose: either pay special interests to comply with the fundamental laws that protect our quality of life, or give those special interest waivers so they don’t have to play by the same rules the rest of us do.

I-933 harms quality of life

I-933 will result in the kind of sprawling, irresponsible developments that increase traffic congestion and overwhelm local education, public safety and other services we all depend upon.

I-933 actually threatens property rights

I-933’s “waive or pay” requirements say irresponsible development could occur almost anywhere, regardless of neighborhood standards.

And remember: Although I-933’s proponents will try to make the link, I-933 changes no “eminent domain” laws in the State of Washington.

If you have any questions regarding the Protect Communities Coalition kickoff or to RSVP please email dan@protectcommunities.org or call (206)323-0520.

Click here for the Protect Communities Coaltion web site.
Click here to read our previous blog posting on this initiative.

May 17th Workshop Focuses on Keeping Resident Well Water Safe

The Thurston County Department of Public Health and Social Services is conducting a free workshop called “Keeping Your Well, Well” on May 17 to help county well owners keep their drinking water safe.

The workshops are designed to help residents:
> Identify potential pollution sources in and around their well.
> Eliminate potential pathways for contaminates to enter their drinking water.
> Learn how to test their well for contaminants.

Wednesday, May 17, 7 pm to 9 pm
Rochester Primary School , 7440 James Rd. SW

Click here for a map to this location.

To register: call (360) 754-4111, TDD (360) 754-2933; or e-mail venninj@co.thurston.wa.us.

Click here for the informational page about this workshop on the Thurston County web site.

Click here for a variety of materials on drinking water quality available from the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department.

Planning Commission to Meet May 3 at 7 pm – Agenda Includes Critical Areas, Rezoning and Cluster Development

The Thurston County Planning Commission will be meeting Wednesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. Among other items on their agenda will be “Critical Areas – Reasonable Use Exception”, “Cluster Development”, and “Rural Rezoning – follow up on sub-areas.” These are all “hot topics” with many GNA members.

Click here to retrieve a copy of the agenda for the meeting.

Low Impact Development Manual – A Valuable Online Resource

Development practices are taking on a striking new look in the Puget Sound region. The Low Impact Development Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound contains detailed guidance on how best to design, construct and maintain low impact development (LID) practices. This online manual is targeted to engineers, planners, developers, builders, architects, landscape architects and other technical staff who design, review, permit and build using LID practices. However, it’s well worth reading if you are in the planning stages of any kind of development effort in our area.

Research shows that conventional development practices do not fully protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and other aquatic resources from the adverse effects of development and stormwater runoff. According to the Puget Sound Action Team (an office of the Governor), “Low impact development is a stormwater management and land development strategy applied at the parcel and subdivision scale that emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features integrated with engineered, small-scale hydrologic controls to more closely mimic pre-development hydrology.”

Click here to read more about Low Impact Development and to download a copy of the LID Guidance Manual. A link is also available on our “Links” page.

Department of Ecology Releases Pollution Study for Tributaries to Totten and Eld Inlets

GNA members at our Annual Meeting on March 8, 2006 viewed a presentation by representatives of the Washington State Department of Ecology. The presentation was of a report on water temperatures and the levels of fecal coliform bacteria in four tributaries to Totten Inlet (Pierre, Burns, Kennedy, and Schneider creeks), and two tributaries to Eld Inlet (McLane and Perry creeks).

The report presented was a “TMDL” or “Total Maximum Daily Load” study. GNA members were told that TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can tolerate and still be considered healthy.

One of the immediate results of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria is the potential to pollute shellfish beds.

The report makes a particular point of identifying the source of fecal coliform bacteria for these area streams: livestock, failing private septic systems and pet waste. The primary solutions to address the problem of this kind of pollution is directly within the control of homeowners in our area.

There are two documents of particular interest regarding this issue, on the Department of Ecology web site. The first is this document, which is a Quality Assurance Project Plan published in May 2004. The second is this document, presented to the GNA in March, which is the Water Quality Improvement Report. This second document would be of particular interest to homeowners living within the watersheds of the creeks within this study area.

What are your concerns about water quality and how are you working to improve water quality in our region? Leave your comments by clicking the link below.

I-933: Reducing Homeowner Rights for the Benefit of Irresponsible Development

Initiative 933 is not a”Property Fairness Act” at all. If passed I-933 would, instead, dramatically reduce the legal rights of communities to protect themselves from harmful actions. Growth management, logging, shoreline protections, and protections of drinking water quality and air quality would be jeopardized. Here in the Griffin area, we are not solely “property owners,” but homeowners. We oppose I-933 because of how its passing would eliminate our rights to have a say in how our community will grow and how we will protect our property and quality of life.

How can this be? Promoters of this initiative tell us it only defends reasonable property rights against government intrusion. It does this by forcing local governments to either pay landowners for claims of diminished property values due to land use laws or not enforce those laws at all. All of Washington’s forestry laws, its shoreline protections and many water laws would not be enforced.

As homeowners in the Griffin area, we know our area is going to continue to experience increasing development pressure. At the same time, we recognize the value of our property is affected by the quality of life here in western Thurston County. Imagine the impact on your property values if developers were permitted to foul our aquifers and despoil our shorelines. Think about the effect of unfettered development which does not keep pace with schools and roads. This initiative does not lead to “fairness.” Instead, it will eliminate our ability to safeguard our health, safety and quality of life.

Elsewhere in Thurston County, we are already feeling the effects of growth. For example:

  • In the last three years, the city of Lacey has used up its 20 year water supply
  • Because of polluted runoff, Henderson Inlet was closed to shellfish harvesting.
  • An updated Comprehensive Plan failed to protect even one-third of the County’s working farms from expensive rural development.

We do not want the peninsula between Eld and Totten inlets to join this list.

None of us like government intrusion into our lives. All of us know that we need to hold our elected representatives’ feet to the fire on matters related to growth. We know there are examples of unreasonable land use regulations, but we recognize there is no panacea for the many issues which confront rural homeowners living on the fringes of the urban growth boundaries of Thurston County. I-933 is not a “magic bullet” for the problem of over-regulation. Instead, it replaces the will of the people with the short-term profit motive of reckless developers.

We are intelligent enough to understand the implications of an initiative disguised by its promoters as the “Property Fairness Act.” This is, in fact, “The Irresponsible Developer’s Initiative,” bought and paid for by interests that don’t share our values and don’t live in our neighborhoods.

Happily, we can learn from Oregon’s experience with their own similar initiative. In that state, Measure 37 was approved by voters who didn’t understand its impacts. Since its passage in 2004, 2500 claims have been made for development of tens of thousands of acres. Governments in Oregon have been forced to fail to enforce reasonable, common-sense protections for public health and safety.

Washington voters defeated another initiative of this kind, called Measure 48, ten years ago.

This time around, let’s not even sign the petition to place I-933 on the ballot.

Learn more about I-933:
Click here for the Community Protection Coalition
Click here for Futurewise
Seattle Times article: “Preserve land-use standards that protect our families”
Seattle Times editorial: “Property rights a slam dunk? Not so fast”
July 2005 Summary on effects of Oregon’s Measure 37
August 2005 update on the effect of Oregon’s Measure 37 on rural communities and public health
October 2005 ruling on constitutionality of Oregon’s Measure 37
March 2006 upholding constitutionality of Oregon’s Meaasure 37

What are your opinions regarding the aims of I-933 and the tactics of its promoters? Click on the POST A COMMENT link below to leave your comments.