Last week’s editorial calling for resolving the lake/estuary debate was long overdue. It is time to dismiss the estuary idea, recognize Capitol Lake for the wonderful asset that it is, and move on.
Unfortunately, the editorial was marred by repetition of outdated mistaken views.
Capitol Lake is the healthiest lake in Thurston County. It has been clean enough for swimming for the last 15 years. It is a refuge for native species (Olympic mud minnows, freshwater mussels) whose continued existence elsewhere is precarious. It is a natural water treatment facility that provides enormous protection for Budd Inlet. The floating mats of plants out there every summer, while unsightly, provide a hint of the huge loads of Deschutes River nitrogen pollutants that the lake prevents from degrading Puget Sound.
We could actually improve on this action of the lake, visually and environmentally, by occasionally harvesting some of these plants and algae.
West Bay probably has more invasive species in it now than does Capitol Lake. Remove the dam and there would be one more; the New Zealand mud snail, which survives in estuarine water as well as freshwater. Leave Capitol Lake in place and the mud snail would forever after be food for a native freshwater species that relishes it – the signal crayfish.
Our lake is a priceless asset.