For the thousands of us that spend time around Capitol Lake, many may have wondered why the lake level has been lowered several times this fall and winter. As reported in The Olympian last year, it was an attempt to reduce the New Zealand mudsnail population. What has gone unreported, however, is that the Department of Enterprise Services, which manages the Lake as part of the Capitol campus, lowers the lake level far more frequently to reduce the potential for flooding in downtown Olympia. They have implemented their procedure four times within the last five months.
For some reason, the Olympian has not found this to be newsworthy, despite the fact that the flood control feature of the Capitol Lake dam is one of a significant number of reasons to retain Capitol Lake. Another key reason to maintain Capitol Lake, that has gone unreported, is the relative cost of maintaining and improving the lake versus creating an estuary. CLIPA has reported that the 20-year cost to maintain the lake is about $41 million versus the estuary alternative of $258 million. If that seems like a lot of money for creating an intertidal mudflat, you’re right. You can find details at the CLIPA website.
One last related point; I’ve noticed that of the scores of our country’s rivers, lakes, bays, and estuaries which host the New Zealand mudsnail, only Capitol Lake is closed to the public. Is it time for The Olympian to step up its investigative reporting?