Bill requiring state to maintain Capitol Lake dies

March 29, 2011 

Bill requiring state to maintain Capitol Lake dies

Despite support, measure fails to make it out of House committee by deadline.

BY STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian

A bill requiring the state to maintain Capitol Lake as a permanent part of the Capitol Campus died a quiet death this session.

House Bill 1938, which had the support of all South Sound House members, failed to move out of the House by the March 7 deadline imposed by legislators. It was approved by the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee on a 6-4 vote but died in the House Capital Budget Committee.

The bill’s demise was a setback for lake supporters who tried to derail the possibility of pulling out the Fifth Avenue Dam to allow the Deschutes River to flow freely into Budd Inlet.

“The bill’s dead,” Capital Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said Tuesday. “I really didn’t want to drive a stake into one option over the other.”

Meanwhile, the pro-lake group known as the Capitol Lake Improvement and Protection Association has issued a 50-year plan that pegs lake-management costs at $43.5 million – well below earlier estimates by the Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Committee of $191 million for the lake and $114.5 million for the estuary.

The big differences in the two plans are in the amount of dredging required and dredge disposal costs.

The Adaptive Management Committee, which consists of local governments, state agencies and the Squaxin Island Tribe, issued a lake-estuary analysis in 2009 that calls for 875,000 cubic yards of material in an initial lake dredge to restore original lake depths and 394,000 cubic yards in the initial dredging to shape the estuary.

The CLIPA proposal calls for an initial dredging project of 100,000 cubic yards, using the lake’s north basin as a sediment trap, CLIPA member and retired state Department of General Administration engineer Gary Larson said.

Maintenance dredging would continue under all three scenarios to deal with the 35,000 cubic yards transported down the river each year. But the dredging to maintain the estuary would occur in lower Budd Inlet, not the lake. There has been no dredging in the lake since 1986.

On a 5-3 vote, the CLAMP committee in 2009 recommended the estuary option to the state Department of General Administration, the state agency charged with managing the lake as part of the Capitol Campus. GA has not forwarded the proposal to the state Capitol Committee, saying there’s no money in the state budget for any of the options.

Instead, GA has asked for $500,000 in the 2011-13 state capital budget to prepare for an emergency, minor dredging project in the lake, which is fast filling up with sediment. That project wouldn’t commit the state long-term to a lake or estuary, GA officials have said.

Dunshee said lawmakers are negotiating on the capital budget and couldn’t predict whether the money for Capitol Lake will be in the final budget.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444

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