1. GROWTH OF REGION
Thurston County growing at fast pace
Price, availability of land make area desirable
“Many of Washington’s metropolitan areas have grown substantially since 2000, with Thurston County, Tri- Cities and Bellingham showing the highest percentage growth, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday [March 26].
The state’s smaller communities, called “micropolitan” areas, also showed solid growth, the agency said…
The data show that the Olympia area, which the study defines as Thurston County, grew in population from 207,355 to 238,555 in the study period.
Thurston County’s cheaper and more available land compared with Pierce and King counties has sparked much of the growth, said Mike Edwards, former president of the Economic Development Council of Thurston County’s board of directors. “Clearly, it’s the price and availability of land,” said Edwards, who remains an EDC director. “We have populations willing to come down here. It’s been convenient to do that.”
Also helping Thurston County grow is its stable economy, helped by the presence of state government and new job opportunities coming from businesses to serve the growing population, Edwards said.
Rising gasoline prices could stem the growth for employees willing to commute farther while saving on home prices, Edwards said.
“We could easily see a drop-off if gas stays at $4 a gallon and above,” he said.
An increased number of troops at Fort Lewis also is contributing to South Sound’s growth as some military families choose to live in Thurston County, Edwards said,” quoting The Olympian.
2. VERSUS GROWTH CAUSED ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Scientists: Puget Sound species in decline as pollution increases
“Scientists gathered Wednesday [March 26] to share their latest research on what ails South Sound, painting a picture of a shallow, poorly circulating water body with a host of pollution problems on the rise and many species in decline.
The research presented at the South Sound Science Symposium sobered the crowd of 400. It also drove home the fact that the root causes of a South Sound ecosystem out of whack are not fully understood.
Population growth and all of its trappings including polluted stormwater runoff, nitrogen and bacteria loads from human and animal waste and habitat loss seem to lurk behind many of the signs of an unhealthy Sound, the science suggested.
Preliminary studies suggest that more than half of the toxic chemicals delivered to South Sound come from stormwater runoff that originates from urban areas, noted Puget Sound Partnership toxics reduction program manager Scott Redman,” quoting The Olympian.
These two reports came from the same day.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Now, The Washington State Dept. of Ecology announces layoffs
“The state Department of Ecology plans to lay off up to nine workers in its 250-person Water Quality Program, prompted in part by declining construction statewide.
The division works to prevent pollution of the state’s lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. It sets guidelines for handling discharge, such as stormwater runoff from new developments….
The agency projected income growth when it set its budget a year ago because planners expected increasing construction projects to require more permits.
But the economy has slowed, those expectations have been trimmed back twice, and the agency faces a $1.8 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year in June 2009,” quoting The Olympian.