Water & Waste

The organic waste that residents and businesses in the Thurston region produce is sent to a landfill to decompose. During the decomposition process, solid waste produces methane—a gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Some landfills capture this methane and combust it to generate power, including the landfill that receives Thurston County’s waste. Methane leakage is still the primary source of emissions from solid waste disposal.


The collection, transportation, and processing of waste also requires energy, which is often derived from fossil fuels. There are similar emissions related to wastewater: the collection, transportation, treatment, release of wastewater back into the environment—all need energy and heat and, in some cases, releases potent methane.

LOTT’s central wastewater treatment plant, Olympia, WA.

Key Sector Targets

Strategies and Actions

Strategy: Increase the efficiency of water and wastewater infrastructure.

The energy used to power these utilities are large contributors to the carbon footprint of individual jurisdictions. This strategy centers on ways for city and county governments to increase efficiency, save money, and reduce emissions.

Actions Assessed in the Plan:

  • Municipal energy efficiency. Conduct efficiency improvements to municipal water and sewage treatment systems. Prioritize components that consume the most energy and have high GHG emissions.

Strategy: Reduce water consumption.

The link between water and energy means that reducing water consumption through efficiency and conservation programs can also reduce energy consumption and resulting emissions.

Actions Assessed in the Plan:

  • Water audits. Conduct water audits of city and county facilities to determine prioritization of capital improvements. 

Strategy: Reduce emissions from wastewater treatment operations.

The treatment of wastewater produces additional processing emissions outside of typical energy use. This strategy aims to improve the treatment and re-use options of wastewater to reduce emissions. 

Actions Assessed in the Plan:

  • Nitrous oxide capture. Research and implement nitrous oxide mitigation strategies and strategies to avoid or reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Present findings and cost vs benefits analysis to policy makers to determine what changes should be made. 

Strategy: Divert more solid waste from landfills.

It is important to continue to improve and expand reduction, recycling, and reuse strategies to reduce emissions. Diverting waste keeps materials out of landfills, where it would traditionally break down and produce greenhouse gases.

Actions Assessed in the Plan:

  • Waste audits. Provide waste audits for business owners and education on practices that decrease waste (ex. Compost, recycling, reuse).

  • Waste less food program. Expand Thurston County's "Waste Less Food" program.

Strategy: Reduce consumption of carbon-intensive goods and services.

Not only does source reduction decrease direct landfill emissions, it can also drive reductions in emissions associated with the manufacturing, purchasing, and use of products and services. Since producing goods can require a great deal of raw materials incentivizing the reduction and use of unneeded goods can have a huge impact.

Actions Assessed in the Plan:

  • Supply chain. Provide free technical assistance to local businesses in reducing the carbon intensity of their supply chains.

What You Can Do

The plan will lead directly to projects and resources spent in your community. Here’s how you can help determine which projects we undertake and where we should focus our resources: 

  • Take the Survey by clicking the “Share Your Feedback” tab above.

  • Read the Plan and get all the details in the full document.

  • Sign Up for updates via www.trpc.org/climate. 

  • Email comments to the project manager at climate@trpc.org.  

  • Call the project manager at the Thurston Regional Planning Council at 360-956-7575.  

  • Ask Questions and tell us what you think about the draft Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan.

© 2023 by ITG. Proudly created with Wix.com