The LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the sewer treatment utility that serves Thurston County, took center stage during Lacey City Council’s Thursday work session.
That’s because executive director Mike Strub was on hand to update the council on the utility and its mission.
Councilman Jeff Gadman asked for an update on a study to determine the amount of chemicals in wastewater created by prescription medications.
Strub said the utility is about 3 1/2 years into a $5 million study that is expected to last about six years. And it’s not just looking at pharmaceuticals, but also chemicals created by toothpaste, cosmetics and fire retardants, he said.
So far, the study has examined the following areas:
▪ The quantity and specific chemicals in the wastewater stream.
▪ The amount of those chemicals found in groundwater and surface water.
▪ The utility’s effectiveness in treating those chemicals.
Strub said the utility is pretty good at removing some of the chemicals through micro-filtration and nitrogen removal processes.
But anti-seizure medications remain a persistent issue, largely because they don’t break down as well in the treatment process, while ibuprofen and hormone treatments break down pretty quickly, Strub said.
The next phase is a “tracer” study, which will examine the effects of those chemicals in the ground.
Once the study is complete, results will be shared with LOTT’s board and the community, he said, and then a determination will be made about whether the utility needs to do additional treatment.
If additional treatment is needed, Strub cautioned the council that the “financial impacts could potentially be huge.”