Capitol Lake’s time may have already passed by

OlympiaAugust 10, 2013 

Like many, I have not settled on a “best” option for Capitol Lake/Estuary as it becomes marsh. Maybe this semi-natural progression — reservoir to river meadow — is as good any currently feasible outcome.

These are hard choices, but the conversation gets distorted when folks pose the estuarine option as a choice for “mudflats.” That demeans estuaries.

Estuaries are uniquely valuable and productive systems. Their ebb and mix of fresh and marine waters creates a rich environment that, if properly cared for, support rich human communities. Think of inner Budd Inlet — all that human and biological activity percolating on shores, navigable waters, piers, pilings, and intertidal shellfish beds. And, apparently, no New Zealand mud snails. Who would propose running a dam west from KGY to flood the inner bay with fresh water?

We properly value our few remaining intact estuaries: Gull Harbor, Nisqually Delta, Bowerman Basin. Sources of life.

Humans often go awry investing too deeply in the status quo; sending good money after bad to maintain that status.

We rebuild on flood plains, raise dikes and resist moving to higher ground. The cost of retaining a constantly dredged lake is enormous.

It may be time to ease up on our perceived need to control the river and bay. Either through evolution to a riverine meadow or replacement by a rejuvenating estuary, perhaps our dying lake/reservoir’s time has come.

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