Thurston County Staff say it will likely search for alternative options as it relates to the local jurisdiction of biosolids, following a couple weeks of examining what authority staff might have on the permitting or regulation of biosolids and applications of distributors. 

“At this point we will see how we could probably contact our legislative delegation as to how the law could be changed to give more authority to the counties and local jurisdictions to how we permit biosolids applications in the future,” County Manager Ramiro Chavez said during a March 26 Thurston County Board of Commissioners meeting.  

County staff also received some feedback from the Washington State Department of Ecology, according to Chavez, which said that although Ecology has authority to delegate permitting activity to smaller jurisdiction, it’s unlikely they will. 

Under state law, Ecology is required to conduct a permitting and review process for biosolids distributors.

In 2015, Fire Mountain Farms, a Lewis County biosolids manager and lagoon dredging servicer, applied for a permit to distribute biosolids on a 181-acre plot of land currently owned by Abston Henricksen Timber near the Nisqually River. In January of this year, Ecology held a public hearing on the pending permit. 

The public was quick to criticize Fire Mountain Farms and the permitting process, which many have said doesn’t give enough authority to smaller governing bodies. 

In February, the Nisqually Tribe and county submitted letters opposing the Determination of Nonsignificance declared and said that more hydrogeologic and environmental impact tests need to be done. 

County officials also criticized portions of Fire Mountain Farm’s Site Specific Land Application Plan, the description of they determined to be “incomplete and that additional information is needed before a decision can be rendered on this permit.”

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