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WCC Project Will Save Millions of Gallons of Water Annually

June 29, 2022

By Robert Johnson Communications Office

James Chavez, the construction project coordinator for the Washington Corrections Center reclaimed water project, stands in a lush area by Goldsboro Creek. The project will reuse 21 million gallons of water a year and improve the flow of the creek. (Photo courtesy of Robert Johnson, DOC Communications Manager)

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A Washington Corrections Center (WCC) project decades in the making will do more than save millions of gallons of water each year. It will restore wildlife in Shelton.

Facility officials were joined May 25 by representatives of the Squaxin Island Tribe and city of Shelton to celebrate the pumps turning on for a reclaimed water project that will enhance flow from nearby Goldsboro Creek and reduce prison usage of the local aquifer by 55,000 gallons a day.

“This project reiterates Washington Corrections Center, the Department of Corrections and the state of Washington’s commitment to being a good global neighbor,” said James Chavez, construction project coordinator. “It took a lot of work to get to this point.”

The first agreements were signed 20 years ago. The 410-acre facility partnered with local and state agencies, as well as the tribe — which diverted money earmarked for the Department of Ecology to help fund the project — to reduce the strain on the aquifer.

“WCC has long struggled with water rights and usage and has taken steps to reduce water consumption,” Superintendent Dean Mason said. “The launch of the water reclamation project takes that even further. The water is suitable for most uses except drinking, and the facility will use reclaimed water for the laundry, the garden, steam plant and washing buses.”

By using water more than once, the facility will reduce aquifer consumption by 21 million gallons a year.

“That’s enough to fill 178 million water bottles every year,” Chavez said. “The reduction we’re looking at is going to have a positive impact on the flows of the north fork of Goldsboro Creek and the fish and wildlife it supports.”

That is especially important for the coho salmon population, which uses the creek to spawn, said Erica Marbet, a hydrologist for the Squaxin Island Tribe.

“Puget Sound coho are greatly diminished compared to what they were historically,” she said. “Most streams the populations are low, they’re not growing, their status is uncertain. With the exception of Goldsboro. Goldsboro is doing quite well. One of the reasons is decades-long partnerships with agencies like Corrections. On behalf of the tribe, I wanted to express appreciation to Corrections for completing this project."

“For me it’s a champagne kind of day.”

The water will also be used to irrigate four fallow fields to grow clover for bees, which are vital to ecological health. The project also has provisions to allow for expansion to reclaim even more water.

“I hope this isn’t the last time that we get to collaborate,” Marbet said. “I really look forward to hearing about the uses of the reclaimed water because you guys are going to be an example to future reclaimed water use by Mason County and statewide.”