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What should happen to Capitol Lake? Study of the options is now underway

Allen Pleus, an aquatic nuisance species coordinator with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, performs a beach line assessment of Capitol Lake in 2014.
Allen Pleus, an aquatic nuisance species coordinator with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, performs a beach line assessment of Capitol Lake in 2014. Olympian file photo

After years of debate over the future of Capitol Lake, work on an environmental impact statement on possible changes to the man-made lake is now underway.

The state has hired Seattle-based Floyd|Snider to study four options: keeping the 260-acre lake but doing more to manage sediment accumulation, reverting the lake to its natural state as an estuary by opening the Fifth Avenue dam, creating a hybrid version, or doing nothing.

The report will look at economic and environmental impacts, cost estimates for implementation, and identify a preferred option.

The first step of the environmental impact statement process is to gather public comment on the options, potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures to avoid or minimize impacts.

A public comment period started Wednesday and ends Nov. 13. Comments can be submitted:

Online at capitollakewatershedEIS.participate.online

By email to comments@capitollakewatershedeis.org

By mail to Bill Frare, Department of Enterprise Services, PO Box 41476, Olympia, WA 98504

In person at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at Hotel RL, 2300 Evergreen Park Drive SW in Olympia, or 5:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE in Olympia

A draft version of the environmental impact statement is expected to be complete in 2020, after which there will be another public comment period. The final report is expected in 2021.

The lake at the mouth of the Deschutes River was created as a reflecting pool in 1951, with the Fifth Avenue dam that divides Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet controlling the water level.

The lake currently holds significantly less water as sediment from the river accumulates. It is contaminated with phosphorus, prone to algae blooms and home to invasive species.

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In its 2015 budget, the Legislature directed the state’s Department of Enterprise Services to “make tangible progress” on a long-term management plan. The following year, a group of local, state and tribal stakeholders met several times to identify goals and potential funding for such management.

This year, lawmakers approved $4 million for the environmental impact statement.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869
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