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Green Screens: Twenty-four Hours at Olympia's Artesian Well

July-August 1999

Twenty-four Hours at Olympia's Artesian Well

By Amber Bell

On a sunny day in September we set up camp - 24 hours at the Artesian well. Our mission was to document names and faces, and to find out just who does drink this water? One day and 424 signatures later told us what we already knew - our well is integral to this town. Garbage men to police officers, skate punks to RV owners - the one consistency is everyone's adamant belief in clean water. As I sat by the pouring water in the leased out parking lot, first in a sweatshirt and later with a hat to keep out the sun, I soaked in the stories of the town.

When Cooper Point flooded everyone got their water here. When the train crashed straight through the station into Bill's kitchen (now Proffitt's) it was right under the nose of this well.

A retired police officer told about a well they tried to cap over by the freeway - "Blew the pipe 90 feet in the air from the pressure. Now it just runs right into the ground."

If the rumors are true, if the well really will be shut off, we will lose the secret, most vital part of our community. We are all connected by the clearest, cleanest water. And once we drink it, they say, we will always return to Olympia.

Project by Amber Bell, Nikki McClure, Ariana Jacob, Mirah Zeitlyn, and Elsbeth Perry, who are local residents concerned about safe drinking water.

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